The "Dangerous Forties" in the Life-Cycle of Humanity - 5
The type of service implied in the third life-stage (vanaprastha ashrama), which theoretically follows the crisis of the forties, should not be understood solely as a vertical relationship, even though it involves the relation between a person and his or her whole community. The transition between the "householder" stage (oriented toward productivity and profit, and largely controlled by the ego) and the "forest-dweller" situation requires a readjustment of the horizontal relationship between the aging producer and the other members of his family and community. A non-ego-conditioned relationship from which the personal drive for profit and the desire to control the behavior of other people have been eliminated is still a horizontal relationship; nevertheless it moves in the direction of a new kind of achievement, that of a consensus. Competitors come to accept compromises. They may do so in terms of an extensive process of reorganization whose end-purpose may be the actual transcendence of the individualistic profit-motive.
As this motive is being transcended, another quality of relatedness is likely to emerge from the harmonizing of the separate ego-wills. The individual producers may realize their joint involvement in the economic and political health of the community in which, until then, they had operated with their own profit as the only goal. As this occurs, the individual accepts and comes to desire vertical relation to a greater whole, the community, more than any horizontal relationship. This community, experienced at first as a physically objective reality, sooner or later may become not only a psychic field in which interacting personal desires still conflict, but an integral mental-spiritual organism. In due time this organism will be known as the Earth-being, and practically all limited relationships will be absorbed and transfigured into that one all-inclusive relation. Then the once conflicting ego-wills of self-assured individuals, having learned to achieve consensus, can function as distinct but centrally unified "agents" of the planetary whole in a condition of interpenetration of consciousness.
At that stage consensus becomes unanimity. Individualized forms of consciousness interpenetrate. The participants not only "sense" (or feel) together; they realize that one "Soul" (anima) operates through their differentiated fields of being. Individual or group minds may differ as to policies and methods; but these differences chord into a total resonance in which the needs of each and all are met. They are met by being
transcended in a deeply-felt acceptance of the karma, to the neutralization of which every different person contributes in his or her own way.
This unanimity state may be reached in limited groups or religious communities when what other people would call a Utopia becomes, for the interpenetrating minds, a concretely perceived Presence and the effective fulfillment of a totally shared desire. But unless some drastic events occur which both radically alter the present conditions of life of mankind and enormously reduce the numbers of human beings, one can hardly think of this future stage as a practical possibility. Today, unanimity is most often totalitarianism in disguise.
To reach unanimity in any true and realistic sense, human individuals have to pass through the consensus stage which is now slowly developing. But even that stage is usually encumbered by the ghostly presence in memories of long-held individualistic opinions and egocentric profit-motives fighting crudely or surreptitiously for control of the group-situation. A significant and effective consensus is only reached when the situation being faced is felt to be of the utmost seriousness. What the consensus may reveal, however, is the unwillingness of the participants in the decision to interpret what is occurring as the indication that a radical change of attitude has become imperative.
Many human beings today are more or less clearly aware that such an indication is evidenced by the catastrophic possibilities inherent in the pollution and chemical transformation of the biosphere and stratosphere, as well as in the international war of nerves and the starvation of millions in many overpopulated and mismanaged countries. But many people, especially in developing countries, insist on believing that the Industrial and Electronic Revolutions are historical phases of a typically human kind of growth. They assume and want to assume! that the difficulties such phases have engendered can be solved without a basic reversal of personal or sociocultural attitudes. A thoroughly technologized and automated society moving faster and farther away from the archaic state of a primitive mankind bound to natural processes provides they believe the effective solution, if uncompromisingly applied. In their view, a worldwide consensus is undoubtedly needed, but we have all that is required to reach it if we keep talking, taking chances with unemployment, starvation, and limited wars, muddling through relatively small crises, and thereby avoiding the big crisis nobody wants to face or even less to understand.
According to the philosophy of Operative Wholeness, as long as the linear ideal of "progress" the nineteenth-century god! is not superseded by or integrated into a holarchic concept of rhythmic unfoldment, a crisis of reorientation of activity and revaluation of desires a "change of life" will be needed.
A vague psychic feeling of what is needed, not only for individual persons but for the whole of mankind, may be the unconscious or semiconscious cause of the recent publicity in the United States given to Christian "conversion" and "born again" experiences. Yet this emotional sentimental "return to the Mother" - which does not seem greatly to alter either the everyday way of life and social ambition or the drive for personal and group profit of those having experienced it has little to do with the transition between the Hindu "householder" and "forest-dweller" stages of life. What is needed is not a return to anything, but a basic shift in the frame of reference in which the ego and its profit-oriented mental processes operate. Such a shift occurs when the drive for productivity and profit-at the psychological as well as the material level is replaced by an uncompromising readiness to serve the requirements of the greater Whole, and to do so in terms of the most basic principles of organization the mind is able to understand and act upon.
Fundamentally, this greater Whole is the human situation on the entire planet; but few persons are called upon or able to deal with it in terms of the complex interrelatedness of all the factors involved in it. The important point is not how large the scope of the possible service and the field to which it can apply actually are. Rather, it is whether an individual human being believes himself or herself to be an essentially free and independent subject separate from the situation in which he or she is involved or whether the person consciously and deliberately attempts to deal with it and all it implies as an operative whole. Does an "I" exist outside the total experience, or is not this "I" an intrinsic part of the situation a part to which a confusing or illusory meaning is given if it is taken out of the complex interweaving of factors which, in their togetherness, constitute this situation?
This entire book refers to such a question, already posed in the first chapters. The answer being suggested is that the primary or essential reality of "being" is a cyclic series of interrelated whole situations, rather than a Gnostic drama of the Pilgrimage of an immense number of Souls. Such an answer, however, is only significant when it is made vibrant with a new approach to human experience. It is not sufficient to assent to it intellectually as a philosophical imperative. The change should be lived through in the depth of personhood.
The power of such experiences can and usually should be very profound and moving. It has to be met fully, unreservedly in all its consequences, as well as understood in its deepest roots. This requires not only a total commitment to all aspects of human experience. It demands a mature, courageous, long-sustained mind the mind of wholeness.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1986 by Leyla Rudhyar Hill
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