Rites of Passage - 2
Is knowledge always constructive?
The ability to pass through a radical crisis consciously, with a fully open and aware mind, may make the difference between success and at least partial failure. The Greek oracle at Delphi exhorted everyone, "Know thyself"; but what is this "self" which should be known? What is to be "known" (at least at first) is not so much who "I" am, but what "I" am. This means the contents of the at least relatively insulated and differentiated sphere (or mandala) of the being centralized by this totally abstract feeling of being "I," a separate, different, relatively unique entity. The important facts to know refer to the "am," not to the "I." "I" is a universal, formless, level-less principle, active everywhere, without any possible qualifications. The "am" is the pattern of composite relationships constituting a definite system of organization. In a crisis, this pattern is upset (the deeper the crisis the more thorough the upset) because the fundamental character of the system itself is changing. The "I" remains what it is, as long as the system does not totally break down. If it does, the "I" vanishes, though persistent memories of its presence may keep the fragments relatively integrated for some time.
When the conscious understanding of the complex nature of the "am" is referred to the superpersonal reality of a persistent and significant greater whole, a breakdown of the total structure of the system of "personhood" can be avoided. A correct meaning can be given to the relationships operating at the new level, because the essential character and quality of that level is symbolized in the rite and at least to some extent explained during the preparation for it. The inner attitude (or emotional reactions) of the person preparing for the change is the basic factor, but it is deeply affected by the manner in which whoever assists in the process presents the change and the necessity (or inevitability) for it.
This is particularly evident in the special field of preparation for changes known — and usually misunderstood — as natal astrology. The essential purpose of astrology is to reveal to the "I" of the person the organization of its "am" as a biopsychic system. It is also to make the "I" conscious of the meaning of changes that can be expected periodically during the continuous process of unfoldment from birth to death. During this process what is only potential at birth is to be actualized through the complex relationships of the state of personhood within a sociocultural environment. The philosophical basis of astrology is the concept that all systems in nature operate according to the interactions of a few fundamental, interdependent principles of organic, functional order. While human beings observe and experience the operation of these principles all the time, when one is closely and subjectively involved with what they represent it is difficult to see beyond the play of superficial and seemingly chaotic experiences. In contrast, the order revealed by the periodic motion of celestial bodies in the universally human experience of the night sky refers to factors that are so remote and seem so simple that one can be very objective to what they convey concerning cyclic processes of change.
Nevertheless, the practicing astrologer is confronted by two basic problems: how to interpret these processes and give their phases concrete meanings that can be applied to events and relationships at the level of personhood; and how to effectively yet safely present these interpretations to a client about to meet a crisis of transformation. This is difficult because an abstract relationship (the angular distance between astrological factors, be they planets or other symbolic points) has to betranslated into terms that make sense at the levels of biological, sociocultural, and personal-individual events. Furthermore, the exact nature of these events remains largely uncertain, as they may be internal or external, and often both. Another difficulty involves knowing intuitively or through empathy how the client will react to the announcement of an impending change — perhaps a harsh crisis of transformation — and how he or she will be affected subconsciously by the information. In any field of investigation, the basic question is always how valuable, usable, or safe is knowledge — especially any knowledge which cannot be integrated immediately, securely, and intelligently into a more-than-personal picture of human existence, either as human existence is today or as it can be expected to be in the future.
A process of self-protection may operate in any situation involving a truly esoteric revelation, because an unready person simply will not understand what has been said or will even fail to realize that something of deep, previously hidden significance has come to light. Nevertheless, before new social or personal happenings actually can occur, human beings seem to need to be able to imagine them, even if the imagining is imprecise or confusing. Indeed, the anticipation of an impending change can produce powerful effects (or affects), including fear, strong emotional uncertainty, uncontrollable restlessness, and the urge to escape from what has been predicted. Such reactions weaken in advance the inborn yet still potential faculty which the future confrontation is meant to stipulate or arouse — a faculty having its place and function within the total life-process, just as the crisis also has its place and purpose.
The only way to avoid such negative reactions to foreknowledge is to present the predicted event, as an unavoidable phase of a deeply significant and universal process which sooner or later all human beings will have to experience simply because they are "human." Painful and disturbing as the event or its anticipation may be, it should be given the meaning of being a necessary and inevitable step leading to a higher level of experience and fulfillment — a means to be accepted in view of a magnificent end.
Whether predictive statements be astrological, psychological, medical, political, or astronomical, all forms of foreknowledge or mentally pictured expectations have to be evaluated in such a light. The validity of information conveyed depends entirely on the frame of reference within which it has meaning and value and on the temperament, character, and the quality of the will and understanding of the person or group being confronted with foreknowledge and new perspectives.
To live transpersonally is (in the highest sense of both these terms) to live in a state of transition between personhood and a Pleroma type of consciousness and activity. Because it implies consciously accepting to be an active, positive intermediary between the future and the present, it requires allowing the vibration, power, and light of a state of being which is only one's future to pass through one's organism as it presently is. The present state, not only of the consciousness and mind, but of the whole personality, including of course the physical body, its nerves and organs of action, has to be made to resonate in tune with rhythms operating at the higher Pleroma level. Periodic or occasional states of crisis inevitably result. Indeed what I have called "the transpersonal way" should be understood as a broader, less specific version of "the Path" referred to by most relatively recent esoteric traditions.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1983 by Dane Rudhyar
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