Beyond Individualism

The Psychology of Transformation

by Dane Rudhyar


5. The Pattern of Differentitation & Conflict

d. The Money-Conditioned Types
and the Transpersonal Individual

Wherever the bourgeoisie becomes the dominant factor in a society, the drive toward ever-increasing productivity, personal success and socio-political power takes the near-singular form of the acquisition and secure possession of money. While we can single out and characterize various types of human beings occupying the various rungs of the social ladder, they nevertheless all have a common feature; they all want money and live primarily in terms of the acquisition of money or the preservation and increase of possessions which in the last analysis can almost always be resolved into sums of money. Money conditions every aspect of the personal as well as social life, and in the majority of cases, it not only conditions, but actually determines the character and development of human beings, giving them common features—even though these human beings are proudly insisting on their individual freedom of opinion, choice and behavior.

At one end of the social ladder, we find the wealthy capitalist, the prodigiously successful executive and speculator, the billionaire; at the other end, we see proletarians belonging to some minority group living in squalid tenements or broken down cottages on non-productive land. But the lives and minds of both the very rich and the very poor are equally haunted by money. The profit-motive dominates the collective mentality of everyone as surely and inescapably as a political totalitarian regime dominates the lives of its people. In fact, the power of money is more tyrannical in our supposedly most democratic and 'free' American society than in harshly repressive Communist countries where certain basic material needs are at least supplied without charge to everyone. From this we might deduce that human beings, collectively considered, can hardly avoid being at least partially the slaves of a dominant social power. When it is not a theocratic church, an absolute monarch or a Communist Politbureau, these external tyrannies are replaced by that of money.

The whip of the profit-system can lash the soul and mind of human beings as thoroughly as that of the slave-master; the only difference is that in the first instance, men are left the illusion of freedom. In natural jungles, animals are dominated by hunger; in urban jungles people may also crave money only for food, but because of development of infinitely complex socio-cultural patterns and individualized ambition, in a vast number of human lives the passion for money spreads over the whole psyche and mind. Hardly any one can escape this money-fever because it pervades the entire structure of a society having reached in its development a nearly terminal stage of inner conflict and 'dis-ease'.

Yet, this stage implies the emergence of most significant, yet not well-understood, possibilities of consciousness transformation. When, in earlier times, money was merely a convenient means of settling the value of exchanged goods, it still had the concrete and physical character of barter. Today money has become the abstract form given to social power—or rather, to social potency. It represents nothing in particular, but only the potentiality of transforming one's social status and condition of life. Money thus becomes the symbol of potential 'energy' at the socio-cultural level, as currently recognized in the ecological movement which terms it "green energy". In a similar way, 'vitality' (or the life-force within one's total bio-psychic organism) is also potential energy; it is energy available for a great variety of unspecified uses.

With the modern type of money, we are therefore dealing with a factor whose universalistic and non-differentiated character makes it similar to what the most recent theories of physics imagine to be the substratum of the physical universe of stars, planets and material objects. Money has become for us a truly metaphysical factor, the 'ground' of our socio-cultural existence.

This has very profound and far-reaching consequences. Because of its abstract and undifferentiated character, money (at least in our society) blurs, if not altogether destroys the organic nature of human activity. This activity may, in many instances, still have a functional character insofar as it fills a definite need of the society; but this functional character loses most (and often all) of its meaning and value to the performer of the activity for whom this activity constitutes only a 'job' held for practically the sole purpose of getting money in the form of wages.

Because money is acquired by means of some kind of 'transaction', its acquisition implies some form of social or at least interpersonal relationship. The quantitative aspect of the monetary exchange tends to supersede the qualitative potentiality of the relationship. Socio-cultural transactions and interchanges become almost inevitably determined by the answer to the query, "How much?" Relationships cease to be qualitative when given meaning almost exclusively in terms of money, but function always implies a qualitative factor in the performance of the activity. At the limit we have prostitution; and there is of course intellectual or muscular prostitution when the activity of the mind or the muscles has meaning for the performer only in terms of 'how much' it will bring.

This, perhaps needless to say, fits in well with the character of modern science, because science today deals only with measurements, therefore with numbers and quantitative value. For the physicist, every form of energy can be interpreted in terms of vibratory frequency. For an ordinary man's consciousness, sound and color are basically and vitally different, but for the scientific mind prevalent in our Western society, short-waves differ from x-rays and still more dangerous radiations essentially in terms of their vibratory frequencies. The existential or 'humanistic' consideration of what meaning and value a radiation has for man seeking to actualize his birth-potential in the best manner and the best possible environment is relegated to a secondary position.

The Adwaita type of Hindu metaphysics refers to the world of phenomena as 'maya'. Though this much used and abused word is ordinarily translated as 'illusion', it is etymologically related to the concept of measurement. The world and all its contents can be 'measured', but when an entity or powerful type of energy has value and character only in terms of numbers, it loses its existential meaning, unless a qualitative and essential (i.e., super-existential) meaning is given to Number. It is such a meaning that Pythagoras, the Kabballah and related systems of cosmic symbolisms attempted to formulate. In these cosmological systems, Number is given a functional, organic character; a number has a qualitative meaning in terms of the whole cycle of existence whose phase it characterizes. Thus in any cycle of existence—be it macrocosmic, human or atomic—a phase one or a phase four has an essential, metaphysical significance regardless of the diversity of concrete events or facts to which the phase refers.

This type of thinking, however, has been scorned and is still shunned by our official academic Western mentality, even though a few of the most daring physicists are beginning to move carefully in such a direction, realizing the similarity existing between the Eastern, mystic approach to reality and the latest theories suggested by quantum physics and its strange, non-rationalistic world. It is indeed important to realize that the nuclear physicist's world of basically Unitarian, yet operatively dualistic and bipolar energy has developed parallel to a socio-cultural world in which money is the substratum of an immensely complex global network of human relationships in which, in the final analysis, every activity can be measured, understood and evaluated in terms of 'profit and loss'—of success and failure, or at the religious level, of 'salvation' and 'damnation'.

The profit system and the constant concern with gain and success dominates our Western society. Yet the often quoted paradoxical statement that 'nothing fails like success' points to a very important fact which needs to be emphasized. The dichotomy implied in the modern concept of success and failure does not really apply to a state of culture or religion having an essentially tribal (that is, non-universalistic) character. In such a state a person does the best he can in the position he occupies in terms of birth or obviously demonstrated ability. At the functions of the second order, culture takes for granted—or erects into a dogma—that only a particular and clearly defined set of possibilities is acceptable. No member of the culture-whole is allowed to question this fact, and very few persons could even think of questioning it, so conditioned people generally are.

This also applies to science and the officially accepted world of science, as long as the intellectual framework of the culture retains its mentally binding power. In modern society, every scientifically conditioned or trained person knows that the real world is defined by and limited to what our senses and our rational mind tells us it is. When, a century ago, the concepts of non-Euclidian geometry and, later on, alternative universes took form, this indicated that our Western culture was in the process of breaking down. A culture beaks down whenever everything becomes possible—morally, metaphysically, scientifically, and in terms of actual individual behavior. This point cannot be emphasized too strongly.

Individualism is anti-cultural in the sense that it allows a person to challenge the validity of the socio-cultural frame of reference of the culture in which he was born or educated. The 'free' individual theoretically can choose between a variety of alternatives. He is not bound by the imperatives and taboos of his culture. At the very least, he is free to imagine alternatives, even non-rational ones. The importance of money, as used in our present-day society, is that it enables a wealthy individual not only to imagine alternatives, but in many cases, to act according to what he has imagined. He can break the laws with relative impunity if he can pay for protection. He can travel to various countries and practice different and exotic ways of life. He can change his name and in nearly every way not only think, but behave non-culturally and strictly as a free individual. Nevertheless, in most instances, he is still bound to the ideal of money and usually to the fear of losing it. He may think he is above all moral compulsions and free to do as he pleases, yet most often he remains a willing slave of the fashions of the wealthy. In principle, he should be able to overcome this subservience, but if this is the case, the maintenance of his or her psychological health and balance is a difficult feat. A total non-subservience to any collective or group standard causes an often critical state of psychological and emotional tension.

The possibility for such a strictly individualistic and a-cultural freedom has recently been available to the youth of an affluent and permissive society; yet it produced instead what has been called a 'counterculture'. The important and not sufficiently emphasized point is that this counterculture was still a culture— the culture of a group or class of people who, however much they believed in doing "their own thing," nevertheless followed a definite fashion propagated by the ubiquitous media. Just as the very wealthy 'beautiful people' have adopted a fashionable and characteristic way of life, so had the hippies of the sixties. A truly individualized person does not need to feel the moral reinforcement of a group; but, I repeat, for most people, it is very difficult to take such an uncompromising stand.

If such a 'liberated' person becomes deeply aware of being essentially related to a group of persons totally self-consecrated to the function of bringing about a radically different, more inclusive type of culture and society, then such a human being ceases to be, strictly speaking, a 'free individual'. He has consciously and freely bound himself or herself to a higher type of community—not in terms of a fashion or merely of a generalized and publicized mood of revolt, but as the result of a profoundly experienced, deliberate and perhaps heroically sustained decision to work for an alternative form of human existence, thought and felt to be either essentially superior or (in terms of the evolution of humanity) necessary.

Any true culture is 'organic' in the sense that it is based on a limited field of activity—limited in terms of size, acceptable possibilities and well-defined functions. When money comes to entirely dominate a society and its activities, the concept of organic function either vanishes or takes the character of expediency: certain things must be done and whoever is willing to do them for the amount of money society makes available can do them—as a job. But, I repeat, the modern concept of 'job' is non-functional because, in most cases, it does not imply a consciously accepted reference (and even less dedication) to the whole socio-cultural organism. Today, it also becomes identified with the automatic and depersonalizing behavior of machines and with the concept of 'programming'.

Once the various socio-cultural functions cease to operate in a truly organic sense and when groups of people hereditarily or spontaneously attracted to their performance as a 'vocation' lose their defining characteristics, the process of vulgarization begins. Today it is rapidly spreading due to the press, radio and television. Modern means of communication have an ambiguous character. They claim to propagate culture by making the products and ideals of the culture available to the masses which thus are said to become 'educated'; yet, in fact, the media actually devitalize and deteriorate what they vulgarize (from vulga, the crowd).

The process of vulgarization is especially important and far-reaching in our present Western civilization, because of the strong ideological emphasis placed on the twin concepts of individualism and egalitarianism. Culture has to be made available to every child and adolescent; but this can only be done by reducing to the lowest common denominator the ideals and concepts on which a particular culture has been based. Egalitarianism is a spiritual ideal but not a cultural reality, simply because culture, being essentially organic, implies functional differentiation. Similarly, the 18th century concept of the 'individual' refers to an abstraction or, in a spiritual sense, to a transcendental and metaphysical state, unless it is given a functional character in terms of a social process. In this case one is dealing with the 'individual-in-his-environment'—that is, with a person functionally related to his society.

The crucial fact emerging from the state of socio-cultural development occurring toward the close of a culture-cycle is that, as all the concepts and values of the culture are becoming vulgarized and dis-functionalized, this process takes place simultaneously with the ever-increasing spread of the products and ideas of other cultures through now easily crossed national-cultural frontiers. As these various cultures blend in a kind of mental melting pot, they cease to be truly functional and organic; they become—all of them—a mental humus, a chemical compost from which the no longer culturally determined minds of relatively 'free' individuals may choose whatever, at the moment, has the most fascinating appeal to them.

Not all minds are sufficiently developed or free from the harsh realities imposed by job and family to become deeply acquainted with unfamiliar and exotic cultures and their philosophies, but the possibility is open to every 'educated' person. As a result, the intelligent youth finds himself obsessed by potentiality. He or she can think, believe, work for almost anything. This is an unparalleled opportunity for consciousness-expansion and, in some cases, for transcending all sense of bondage to a particular culture and way of life. Yet sooner or later, the youth often discovers that he or she can be bound by not-being-bound, and depressed by the intoxication of unlimited freedom of choice.

The possibility of radical transformation through deculturalization is open, but it can be deeply upsetting and frightening. Can one wholesomely accept the process and deculturalization if one does not know where it will lead? Can one accept chaos and feel inwardly secure and stable in that acceptance, if one has no clear vision or indisputable intuition of what is beyond not only one's culture, but any particular culture—beyond organic living rooted in biology and functional activity?

In the cultural past, clearly formulated religious patterns of beliefs and unquestionably valid symbols and images that referred to a transcendental path leading to a spiritual beyond were not only available but totally accepted as divinely revealed and unquestionably 'sacred'. The mystically inclined believer could follow such a path in relative safety even if it meant being wrenched from the normal biocultural attachments of the social group in which he was born. This was the only alternative beside social normality. But as the last period of a particular culture is reached and an 'invasion' from other cultures and life-ideals spread over the entire society, a variety of possibilities flood the minds of human beings who have been told they are 'free' and that they should lead 'their own' lives as individuals.

If these would-be individuals can somehow manage to get the magical money that would old maps of the unknown cultural and religious territory provided by books and the few people who still remember and try to live according to the old directives. The once vitally flourishing culture may still seem to flourish, but if so it is almost inevitably due to an artificial isolation which replaces trans-personal creativity by a psychic and aristocratic kind of automatism or at least rigidity. When faced by extinction, the representatives of the perpetuated culture are usually most willing to take disciples. In some outstanding cases, the past-conditioned 'Teacher' or guru, challenged by the psychological and spiritual need of the deculturalized seeker, may become a transpersonal channel through which the ancient Source may once more send 'living water'; but this process of transmission entails personal difficulties, and deep-seated psychic and emotional resistances are almost unavoidable.

In the great majority of cases, however, neither the individual disciple nor the Teacher are truly and radically transformed. In the case of the latter, it is because he cannot let go of the automatism of tradition; the former is likewise untransformed because he is afraid to let go totally, and as a result he (or she) emerges in a highly confused state of mind and quite often returns to the religion and culture of his youth, perhaps with a quasi-fanatical fervor aroused by a deep sense of insecurity. Yet at a collective level, the interpenetration between the old culture and the disintegrating society may act somewhat as a grafting process, enhancing the possibility of a smoother transition from one phase to another; and this is a most important process.

In any case, the opportunity for individual transformation exists, if not through travel and personal discipleship, then through reading and group contagion. The restless and confused mind takes this opportunity out of boredom or emotional rebellion; the daring will seizes it, perhaps because it is the only alternative to an impending collapse into unbearable emptiness. To the relatively uneducated mind and the person bound to what appears to be inescapable wage-slavery and/or a substandard social existence, the alternative to resignation and normality may only be some violent form of 'proletarian' revolt. It is usually an empty gesture, but at least the hungry worker has something to rebel against; the very rich capitalist or the executive bound to his frantic rat-race for profit, success and power, in most cases, has no alternative. Psychologically speaking, he is more a slave than the proletarian or the dweller in dehumanizing tenements—a slave to a culture that has uncontrollably fermented into the alcohol of money and led its devotees to inescapable addiction.

A forest during a clear autumnal day can bring to the passerby a wonderful experience, not only of colorings, but of pungency. The decaying leaves exhale a poignant and almost intoxicating scent. The traveler whose senses are captivated by the scenery and the fragrance of autumn may experience a deep melancholy, overshadowed by the sense of finality and the invisible presence of death. But if he is wise in the awareness of life-rhythms, he may also perceive with awakened spiritual vision the myriad of seeds hidden within the decay of the leaves. His cosmified consciousness may resonate to the counterpoint of death and rebirth, of decay and germination. He should be aware that he too is given the symbolic choice of making of his life a leaf or a seed. This is the autumnal choice, as the cycle of a particular culture-whole is nearing its close—and there are smaller subcycles within the larger collective and racial ones.

What does the choice actually imply? The answer is to be found in the realization that in any one seed, the entire power and fate of the whole species to which the plant belongs are brought to a concrete existential focus. The seed is the whole species in a state of potential and focalized activity. The seed is the utterly consecrated agent of the species; its existence has a 'transpersonal' quality, not in the sense that it operates beyond the concrete reality of the physical realm of single and separate entities—that is, of persons, if we think of the human species— but in the sense that the seed is simply a focalizing instrumentality through which (trans) the species will act, if the time and place are favorable.

This transpersonal character of the symbolic 'seed person' reveals that the functions of the fourth order are definitely and irrevocably operative in the man or woman who, through a radical metamorphosis of whatever for him or her is implied in the state of 'being-in-the-world'. The metamorphosis requires the process of deculturalization as a primary factor; and it is only when the historical time has arrived allowing this process to gain a collective social, cultural and political momentum that individuals can spontaneously resonate and become deliberately attuned to it.

Before such a time, during the early periods of the culture-whole's development, such a metamorphosis demands special conditions. The Teacher, who then is a member of a more or less secret Brotherhood, has to seek out and select one who, after a very drastic training and testing, might prove able to take his place. Today, in our Western world, a great many would-be disciples are seeking willing and ready 'Teachers'. But at any time, the Gospel's injunction remains the indisputable condition for total metamorphosis and truly transpersonal living: "Be ye separate!"—for as Jesus said to his disciples: "You are in the world, but not of the world." The seed must leave the plant that bore it before it can operate, even potentially, as a seed—but 'leaving' here does not necessarily mean an act of physical separation. What matters is an inner and irreversible act of severance.

In the last phase of a culture-whole, an antiphonal situation develops: the self-consecrated 'seed-man' or woman consciously grows into seed-immortality while the 'mass-man' unconsciously slides into a collective state of psychic disintegration. The latter category includes the very rich as well as the proletarian; because what characterizes it is an utter dependence upon money and all that money is expected to provide. This state of dependency is as dominant a feature of the psyche of the wealthy executive or socialite hypnotized by profit, money-power or the fear of losing social status dependent upon money, as it is a haunting necessity in the existence of the tens of millions of factory and office workers for whom, according to the style of living now popular, the loss of a job can be catastrophic.

It is the craving by the wealthy for an unsatisfiable (because abstract and self-multiplying) money power, as well as the yearning by the masses of educated working people—indoctrinated with the great Western ideals of individual freedom, equality, self-expression and material abundance for all, yet at least partially deprived of the concrete manifestation of these ideals—that is bringing the development of our Euro-American culture-whole to a state of acute crisis. Because, in the process of industrialization, Western people have had to conquer the regions in which older cultures were slowly disintegrating or remained in a static, quasi-fossilized condition, the crisis has now a world-wide character. It has become a biospheric crisis as well as a social and political crisis, equally affecting the conquerors and the conquered people.

The only basic and permanent way in which either a gradual or a sudden catastrophe can be avoided is if a sufficient number of self-consecrated individuals succeed in developing within their total being functions of the fourth order—compassion, holistic thinking and the capacity to clearly envision and indomitably as well as effectively work for a new and global culture-whole. It can still be a culture-whole if it encompasses the entire planet, because the Earth is a limited organic field of activity. But it must be a culture-whole whose essential feature is an all-human inclusiveness, and whose collective operations will manifest an essential harmony of clearly defined functions performed in the creative mode of the 'sacred'.

Today we may only be able to dream of such a plenary and harmonic-polyphonic society; and there can be no assurance that even our children or great-grandchildren will be able to actually participate in it. Yet if the vision is not given form, at least at the level of concepts and concretizable ideals, there may be no possibility of avoiding a deep regression to the biological-cultural level of tribal organization; and this would mean that mankind would have to begin again at nearly the bottom of the cultural ladder. Even if this should prove to be inescapable, it is certain that if, during the Fall of the year, seeds have not sown themselves in the midst of the decaying leaves, there will be no vegetation when spring begins.

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