The Structure of the Cycle of Being - 2
The symbolic Sunrise refers to the beginning of the universe
we perceive because we live and fulfill a function in it. Sunrise is the moment of Creation
, an immense release of energy that will animate all modes and forms of existence. Energy then passes from the condition of potential energy to that of kinetic energy. The "passage," however, is not an uncontrolled explosion in all directions or dimensions of space; it is controlled by the containing power of the principle of Unity matching that of the principle of Multiplicity. Energy is kineticized, quantum after quantum, in a series of rhythmic pulsations. It is vibratory energy.
Where does this energy come from? It is the energy of the Movement of Wholeness. It is energy generated by the constant tension between the two great forces perpetually operating in the Movement. The concept of being implies a state of tension. The "peace" of perfect being is not the absence of tension, it is the experience of perfect equilibrium. Within the steady and totally stable whole, anabolic and catabolic forces are perfectly balanced. The whole is balanced, but in any part of the whole tension assumes the character of unbalanced being — being in which one force (or principle) predominates. Different results are produced depending on which of the forces is dominant. Thus we speak of kinetic and potential energy. Energy passes from the condition of potentiality to that of kinetic actuality at Sunrise, and a symmetrical polar passage from a kinetic to a potential condition occurs at the symbolic Sunset.
Kinetic energy is energy released in order to perform some objectively measurable work. We can measure the work it performs, not only because our senses and instruments react to it, but also because our minds can detach themselves sufficiently from this work to take an objective attitude toward it. From the point of view of an objective mind, potential energy refers to the possibility of eventual work, provided external acts eventually are performed — for example, if a boulder at the edge of a precipice is given a push and falls. Yet in the state of being where the principle of subjectivity dominates and objectivity is in retreat, energy does not perform objective work; it operates inwardly and centripetally, essentially being "stored up" or "disobjectivized" and condensed into quasi-absolute Oneness.
At the symbolic Midnight, this condition of near (but never absolute) immobility is reached. Being takes the character of an almost static, all-inclusive concentration of consciousness (subjective activity); and such a concentration also represents a state of nearly infinite potentiality. Yet, at the very moment when the principle of Multiplicity is the weakest it can ever be. Wholeness forces it (as it were) to claim its right to existence and to challenge the nearly all-powerful experience of Oneness. Being, almost totally absorbed and condensed into a nearly all-inclusive ecstasy of unity — a nearly timeless im
perience (rather than ex
perience) of "beingness" — is compelled by the oscillatory momentum of the Movement of Wholeness to reverse its polarity. The "center" once more is moved by the idea of a "circle" it would centralize. The incredibly condensed core of subjective being, haunted by the memory of dimensionality, is not allowed by the Movement of Wholeness to reach the condition of a dimensionless mathematical point.
After Midnight, the principle of Multiplicity once more waxes in strength; energy gradually depotentializes itself. It operates in precosmic modes of mental activity. At this stage, "mental activity" refers to the creation of archetypes — that is, to formulas of being, systems (or "models") of organization that will become structural foundations for physical matter. As the waxing principle of Multiplicity reaches a condition of equal strength with the waning principle of Unity, the release of energy takes the form of the Creative Act. The latter, focused through archetypal forms which have become fully defined by then and which in their totality may be called "the Word" (or Logos), gives birth to an increasingly objective, physical universe.
This objective and measurable universe — our universe — represents only one half of the entire cycle of being. It is neither "the Whole" nor the whole of reality. Neither is it an "illusion," nor is the other half of the cycle (the symbolic Night period) Reality with a capital R
. There can be neither one absolute subject nor an infinite multiplicity of absolute ("subjectivityless") objects spread through forever-extended space. Reality is
the cyclic interplay of subject and object. It is wholeness being experienced, partially or completely, by conscious entities in which varying degrees of subjectivity interact with what we call a body. In a deeper sense, reality is Wholeness experiencing Itself subjectively as "One" and objectively as "Many" — simultaneously.(1
Because all beings possess a degree of consciousness within
the Movement of Wholeness, they might be compared to particles of water within a wave. Each particle experiences the wave in its own way, according to its particular position, from its own perspective. Human beings experience the Movement of Wholeness as the natural succession of earthly days and nights and the yearly cycle of seasonal activity. The polarities of the latter cycle manifest in the vegetable kingdom as the fully developed plant (with stem, leaves, and flowers) and the seed. The condition of being a living organism composed of billions of cells is only the objective and existential half of this cycle. But "something" in a human being should be able to experience the entire
"Cycle of Man" — that is, the cycle of being as it applies to the archetypal potential of homo sapiens — including its predominantly subjective aspect during the postmortem state.
The period from the birth of the body to its death is not
the complete cycle of being at the human level. The whole cycle is birth to rebirth. If one is not able to envision this entire cycle, at least in its abstract form, no experience or series of experiences one has while "alive" can have full meaning. The experience of human reality, as wholeness of being, is the experience of the full meaning of the whole cycle, not only of the hemicycle of human "existence" — the existence of a particular person bound to a physical body.
Such an experience of Man, within and by an individual person, may occur in its perfection (purna
, the "perfect experience") at the moment in the cycle of Man when subjectivity and objectivity reach a state of equilibrium at the symbolic Sunset. In the cycle of the year, this corresponds to the fall equinox, when the relative lengths of day and night are equal. In the vegetable kingdom, the power of life abandons the plant and condenses itself into the seed or into the root — to the extent that repetitive cycles are possible on the basis of an enduring organism (for example, a tree). At the level of human evolution, I call this state of equilibrium Illumined Man
. In that state Wholeness manifests as a sublime "light" that reveals the essential meaning of the whole cycle of being. It is the state of human
perfection that has been symbolized as the "divine Marriage" — the perfectly equilibrated and interpenetrating union between spirit and matter in an individualized human being. But it is also only the beginning of a subjective, transhuman
process leading to the condition of increasing "oneness" that culminates at the symbolic Midnight of the cycle of Man.
Here the term "Man" refers to a formation of being occurring on the surface of planets whose material, chemical, and biological development makes its appearance and growth possible at both a collective and an individual level. In this sense, "human history" refers to the period of the cycle between Noon and Sunset. This human period follows the period of the formation of the physical universe (from protogalaxies to planets) and the differentiation of the vast number of life-species on a planet's surface, leading to the appearance of homo sapiens or Natural Man
at Noon. This human period evidently is not exclusively
human, as all forms of life continue to develop within a planet's biosphere; but strictly biological life gradually vanishes (or sees its basic function fade away) somewhat in proportion to the development of characteristically "human" states of being and consciousness.
This interplay of subjectivity and objectivity within our concrete physical universe eventually manifests on earth (and presumably on any planet presenting the necessary telluric conditions) as the individual person. The root-symbol of self-conscious personhood is the statement "I am," in which the "I" stands for the subjective centralizing principle and "am" refers to the state of objective existence as a living organism. In the Bible, when the "Lord God" (YHVH) declares to Moses that His name is "I AM," he presents himself as the archetype of individualized personhood. In Sanskrit, the "I" is implied in the divine name Ish
(see the Isha Upanishad, remarkably commented upon by Sri Aurobindo). The complete form of this name is given as Ishvara
, the Creative Being and "Lord" of the universe — the manifested aspect of Brahman. However, as we shall see in Part Three, this "I" should not be confused with the ego, which is only a mechanism of adaptation of the organism-as-a-whole to the physical, social, and psychic environment, within which a child has to develop his or her conscious mind and to operate as effectively and comfortably as possible. Return
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