The Principle of Holarchy and
the Interplay of Horizontal and Vertical Relationships - 4
It is logical to assume that, as there are levels of activity and consciousness below personhood at which entities (atoms, molecules, cells) operate, there also should be levels above personhood and a more encompassing type of beings active and conscious in such realms. However, the materialistic thinker will not be satisfied by the statement that convincing experiences of the real existence of such level are available to those ready and willing to take the arduous steps required to contact such superhuman beings. The materialist asks, "If such entities exist, why can't I perceive them with my senses or detect their activity through my instruments capable of identifying the paths of subatomic particles?" The answer, at the philosophic; level, rests on the meaning one is willing to give to the term existence. Can there not be several kinds of existence? Another, more symbolical answer might be, "Could the cells of the hands of Michelangelo see and especially appreciate the beauty of the Sistine Chapel?"
As members of relatively advanced societies, human beings now are aware that we are parts of a vast system of activities we call the earth. We realize that it is part of a solar system (a heliocosm) whose central source of energy is the sun. But what do we know of the level of consciousness and activity at which this heliocosm operates? At our level of human consciousness, we can be aware of heliocosmic reality only to the extent that Michelangelo's hands, a their level, knew of molecular activities, nerve currents and muscular contractions. If we cannot assume that these cells were conscious of the total activity of the painter body, let alone of his mind, religious feelings, and of the beliefs of the Catholic Church, why should we find it strange that we cannot perceive all the components of our planet and be conscious of what might be the feelings and spontaneous reactions of the earth? Michelangelo's hand; may have trembled under the tension of his physical exertion — and the earth also shakes! How could we know what the sun in its two hundred million year dance around the galaxy feels and thinks, or indeed what the sun really is at its cosmic level, when we, merely human beings, do no live even a hundred years and our proud and assertive science is basically five hundred years old? The eleven-year sunspot cycle may simply result from the beating of a heliocosmic heart whose plasma-type substance obeys definite rhythms of subatomic (or transatomic) activity.
This is not said to claim basic validity for the Hermetic principle of correspondence "As above, so below," which is an uncertain basis for realistic knowledge of whatever exists at superpersonal and spiritual levels. Correspondences of such a nature are only symbolic, at least to present-day intellects. But everything human beings think about is symbolic, including their own individual selfhood. When a person says "I am," he or she makes a symbolic statement condensing a multitude of feelings, sensations, and memories; the statement integrates them into an assertion of being which, moreover, claims that this "beingness" is different from the beingness of any other claimant to the prerogatives of "I."
Similarly, any claim to vertical relationship with a Pleroma being is founded upon the condensation and interpretation (conscious or unconscious) of many inner feelings and experiences. If clear-cut, descriptive statements are made concerning the supernal pole of the relationship, what is said should be based on holarchic principles. Such statements should not be based merely on the transposition of characteristics and events belonging to the level of personhood and culture to an only ambiguously transcendent level of being. If a cell of Michelangelo's hand imagines the painter's hands and body as huge spheroids containing the same kind of molecular constructs as itself, and the same type of relationships between them, such an image evidently is unrealistic. Yet this is what many theologians and "esotericists" constantly do.
Because the concept of holarchy rests on the principle of containment — of the lesser by the greater — if the lesser operates in terms of matter, the greater also must have a material aspect; but, to the greater consciousness, matter may appear different from the way it does to the lesser mind fed only with sense data. For instance, when a modern esotericist speaks of a meeting of the White Lodge in terms reminiscent of the board of directors of a multi-national corporation, such a personalized social interpretation cannot give a true picture of the situation at the Pleroma level. Nevertheless, though the Pleroma level of planetary being transcends the level of personhood and culture, it also must include the lower level in a transformed or transubstantiated aspect. A Pleroma being probably retains something of the structural character and quality he or she had when, as the last of a series of persons, he or she experienced the "divine Marriage" of person and spiritual Quality; but the substantial aspect of such a being must be matter of a type ordinary human beings find almost impossible to perceive — etheric matter of a high order. Matter is energy stabilized in a structure or field; and at the level of personhood on this planet, this stabilization assumes a particular character attuned to the possibility of human perception and response. When the level of individual personhood is transcended, another mode of formation of energy undoubtedly operates.
Unfortunately, the contemporary ego-mind usually is unready and unwilling to think of itself as a participant in a greater planetary whole at a level less than the highest possible on this earth. At the same time it is afraid to let go of the limitations defining our present personal state of consciousness, feeling, and behaving — a state which a Pleroma being (at the level at which he or It essentially operates) obviously has transcended. Our human minds usually cling to their personal, emotional, and biological limitations. Therefore, consciously or not, we interpret the hierarchical concept of structural organization in terms of familiar hierarchies of command — religious, sociopolitical, and military groups, which operate in terms of levels of governing power. The men on top of the system demand to be obeyed or served by persons operating at the lower levels; and in one way or another they can enforce such demands, often ruthlessly.
Yet heads of state with enormous power as individual persons can be far less mature and spiritually developed than the people from whom they exact often senseless service — for example, in war. The individuals at the controls of sociocultural "greater wholes" have, it is true, usually won their powerful offices by sustained, arduous efforts which would have been beyond the capacities of average citizens or religionists; nevertheless, while in power they remain most of the time as personally and egocentrically human as the people they command. The secret agent sent by army headquarters (or an equivalent of the CIA) to discover certain crucial facts his superiors need to know, performs a dangerous act on behalf of his or her national "greater whole." If caught, such a person may remain silent even while being tortured — his or her individual will steeled by the realization that the fate of the nation depends on such courage. Yet his or her commander in the home office or the White House, though a superior in a vertical sociopolitical relationship, may be a rather insignificant or pompous person in the horizontal civilian relationship of person to person.
In other words, at the cultural and sociopolitical level, the quality of the person may not match the power of the office. Social, political, religious, and corporate hierarchies concern offices, not persons. Human beings working at lower hierarchical levels need not as persons feel inferior to the top executives. These vertical relationships link offices and functions, not people per se. Nevertheless, the relationship between an executive and an employee also may have very personal, horizontal elements; and when this occurs, a deeply confusing situation is created. The more the social class system is abolished, the greater the confusion, especially if the sociopolitical organization has a de facto totalitarian character.
When I speak of vertical relationships, I am not referring to such ambiguous social situations but to interactions between two definite and unquestionably different levels of evolutionary development. The difference of levels is not merely a matter of offices with accompanying titles, uniforms, or other badges of social power or wealth, but one of essential being. It cannot be measured quantitatively, for it implies having passed through a process of radical, qualitative transformation. And the fact that such a transformation has occurred is evident to all who also have experienced such a process. It does not have to be "certified" by sociocultural or religious documents.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1983 by Dane Rudhyar
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