The Four Crucial Phases of the Cycle of Being - 3
From Noon to Sunset
and from Natural Man to Illumined Man
Understanding the meaning of the term Natural Man requires the consideration of the workings of the Polarity principle which complements the principles of Unity and Multiplicity by harmonizing these opposite trends of the Movement of Wholeness. Polarity reveals a special connection between opposite phases in the cycle, most significantly between Midnight and Noon, and between Sunrise and Sunset. In a more general way, a polar relationship also exists between the entire quarters of Sunrise-to-Noon and Sunset-to-Midnight, and between the quarters of Midnight-to-Sunrise and Noon-to-Sunset.
At the symbolic Noon of the cycle, the principle of Multiplicity reaches its maximum power to control the energies of the Movement of Wholeness. In Natural Man the energies of earth-nature attain their greatest possible differentiation; the centrifugal power of Multiplicity and differentiation reaches its natural limits — that is, in nature as it operates in our system of planetary organization. But this extreme of differentiation (or of possibility of differentiation in human nature) "challenges" the opposite point in the cycle, the most unified state of Godhead, to act to affirm Wholeness. The possibility of actualizing Wholeness in a release of concretizable energy is greatest when and where the two extremes face each other. In other words, Midnight is "involved" in Noon, because in the Midnight-Noon polarization Wholeness is challenged to become an actual experience.
This experience — like any integral experience of wholeness (purna in Sanskrit) — must have a form in which to occur, a form to contain it. The form is the archetype, Man. In the evolution of the earth, the archetype Man "descends" into the planet's life-field (the biosphere) when the Promethean or Kumaric "event" occurs. This descent must take place before the Noon of the cycle, so that the archetypal form, Man, can be completely stabilized on earth when the "bottom" of the cycle (the Noon point) is reached by the vast cosmic-planetary tide of the Movement of Wholeness (which we today call "evolution").
At this Noon point the Godhead "involves" itself, as it were, in the planet earth through a human being in whom the archetype Man is focused. In India, such a human being is called a great Avatar; the Christian tradition uses the term "God-man." But the process of involvement (or "intervention") can be interpreted in many ways. For the Christian theologian, it occurred for the first and only time nearly two thousand years ago. But Christian doctrine makes no fundamental distinction between the Godhead and God the Creator of the universe, (though the writings of mystics like Meister Eckart make this distinction); and the supreme event happened relatively recently. It was total and final, even if a Second Coming is still expected today. In India, at least eight great Avatars of the past are mentioned, and others are expected in the future. (Some Indians speak, apparently erroneously, of Gautama Buddha as the ninth Avatar, following Krishna, the eighth, and Rama, the seventh.) Lesser Avatars are also mentioned, and a spiritually illumined human being often is considered the avatar of his or her own divinity.
In a planetary sense (that is, referring to humanity as a whole), the original great Avatar embodies, as it were, the archetype of Man (Anthropos). But he may do so only superphysically, and the term "reflects" or "focuses into the planetary field" may be more appropriate than "embodies." In either case, what the first great Avatar "reflects" is the "vision" or "imagination" that arose in the Godhead state at the symbolic Midnight — the divine image of Man. But at the symbolic Noon, the "image" is as yet imprecise and unlimited by "form"; it is more a Quality (or rather a vast complex of spiritual Qualities) than a form. Religious mystics and poets have tried to express the character of this Midnight "image" in the "mind" of the Godhead by projecting it onto the sky as the "Heavenly Man" whose form was imaginatively and symbolically defined by constellations of stars. This Heavenly Man, however, was a latter-day religious projection of the archetype Man that already had "descended" into the earth-field with the coming of the Kumaras or Promethean spirits. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the central figure in the Hindu version of this descent, Sanat Kumara, should be considered the Supreme Avatar. Rather, he brought down the archetype Man to the sphere of the earth, anchoring it in the substance of the globe at the mystic place Buddhist tradition calls Shambhala.
In a somewhat different way, the process of embodiment of the archetype Man into the crude physical organisms of human beings then controlled by biological energies may be represented in Genesis 6 in the story of the "sons of God" (Ben Elohim) who married "the daughters of man" giving rise to a race of "giants." As the Creator-God Elohim refers to a "Host" of beings, so the term Avatar may be understood most significantly as a series of manifestations, emanations, or interventions of the Godhead state (the state of maximum Unity) throughout the whole period of the actualization of the archetype Man. For this reason, when I use the term Avatar here, I mean the series of great Avatars. In the past I have used the term "the avataric process" to refer to this continuing yet periodic process. This process occurs between the symbolic Noon and Sunset.
The function of the Avatar is to "inject" into the consciousness of successive races and cultures — to graft upon their collective consciousness — one aspect of the archetype after another. The Avatar is able to do so (at least to some degree) because the power of the Godhead is focused into or through the core of his being. He reveals to evolving mankind one "Name" of God (one fundamentally human spiritual Quality) after another. Each avataric "revelation" becomes the basis for the set of great symbols and images (Urbilder) that ensouls a culture-whole.
In a different sense, every human being who becomes identified with his or her individual archetype can be called the avatar of this archetypal reality which (as we shall see in Part Three) is itself only the "form" taken by a spiritual Quality — that is, by one of the immensely numerous aspects of the Creative God, one "Letter" of the creative Word (the Logos). Such a human being has reached the condition of Illumined Man; the "divine Marriage" between a spiritual Quality and a perfectly adequate human vehicle for it has been consummated in him or her. The illumined being has reached this condition as an individual, ahead of the masses of mankind. At the close of a large planetary cycle of the earth's evolution, all traditions tell us, a more or less large number of such fully individualized persons will have reached this stage. They will constitute a spiritual Race or Community. This Community — transhuman even more than human (in the present sense of the word) — is gradually forming even now. I call it the Pleroma. It is forming through the periodic addition of individuals who consciously become avatars of their individual spiritual Quality.
At the close of a great planetary cycle (the symbolic Last Day), the Pleroma is the consummation of human history. In theosophical symbolism it is the "Seed Manu, Savarna." The Pleroma is the polar opposite of Elohim — the Omega answering to the Alpha of the half-cycle during which the principle of Multiplicity is stronger than the principle of Unity. Every human being reaching the state of Illumined Man "reflects" or actualizes one aspect of Elohim, one Letter of the Creative Word. Within this Letter (or spiritual Quality) pulsates, as it were, the immense Compassion of the Godhead, the state of maximum Unity toward which "Pleroma beings" unanimously evolve through the increasingly subjective states between the symbolic Sunset and Midnight.
From one point of view or another in all of my previous writings on philosophy, psychology, culture, and the arts, I have discussed the many-sided developments occurring between Noon and Sunset: the formation and gradual complexification of cultures and religions; the process of individualization; the development of mental faculties and of separative egos; and the transcendence of biological and cultural forces. Human history is the progressive rise of human consciousness through many cyclic ups and downs. Collective human needs for security and well-being have to be answered. Then human consciousness has to become individualized — that is, the collectively determined consciousness of persons, products of greatly varied cultures, has to reach a focus in the clearly formed minds of autonomous and responsible individuals. Such individuals are able to choose between the constructive and destructive use of the energies generated by the Movement of Wholeness and by the tension between the two great principles of Unity and Multiplicity.
Generally speaking, what occurs between Noon and Sunset polarizes what occurred during the opposite Midnight-to-Sunrise period. During the latter, activity was primarily subjective; it operated within the "divine Mind" (as I shall define this term in Chapter 7), through the work of creative Hierarchies gradually more removed from the Godhead state. Their activity manifested through the building of archetypal forms through which the purpose of the Godhead eventually could be actualized in a material universe. During the period of strictly human evolution (from Noon to Sunset), what develops is the human mind and a series of cultures able to give conscious meaning to the immensely varied formations and relationships which in their togetherness constitute "nature" — and eventually to the entire universe accessible to human perceptions and interpretations. Thus conscious meaning polarizes archetypal form.
The activity producing archetypal form, however, is rooted in unity and subjectivity; the bestowal of meaning is conditioned by an immense multiplicity of objective, apparently separate human beings or groups of human beings. According to their states of consciousness these beings may bestow a meaning which reflects either a separative and divisive ("atomistic") or a unifying and integrative ("holistic") approach. Besides these two approaches, a third may gradually emerge if the holistic-integrative approach already has been taken. This is the cyclic or polarity approach I am presenting. It is founded on the realization of Wholeness, the realization that all opposites are inseparably included in Wholeness. They are harmonized in Wholeness, not absolutely unified; for there can be neither absolute Unity nor absolute Multiplicity in Wholeness. Yet because activity at any particular time and place cannot be oriented in two opposite directions at the same time, it must be polarized by an opposing trend effective at some other place or time. Consciousness, however, always can be established in Wholeness.
Because human beings operate during the Noon-to-Sunset period in which the principle of Unity rises, to act in tune with the Movement of Wholeness necessitates working toward greater integration. But this activity need not ignore, abjure, or abhor the power of the principle of Multiplicity. The realization of Wholeness can permeate the consciousness of the acting individual, who then is liberated from emotional attachment to the goal his or her actions serve. Action can be performed "in the Name of" Wholeness and serve the purpose of the particular moment of the performance — a purpose which is defined by the moment's and performance's place in the entire cycle of being.
In other words, because human beings exist during the phase of the entire cycle of being when the rise of the principle of Unity is the fundamental issue — and thus the necessity of its victory over the inertial power of the previously dominant principle of Multiplicity — the essential function of humanity throughout its evolution is to be attuned to and exteriorize in integrative acts the evolutionary trend toward an ever more inclusive manifestation of the principle of Unity. The keynote of human history, therefore, should be cooperation and harmonization. On the other hand, because the principle of Multiplicity is still dominant and (now in a more introverted way) insists on differentiation, a truly human form of cooperation and integration should correlate truly autonomous units of consciousness. Such an autonomy requires the development of mind as an individualized principle of formation. The principle of Multiplicity gives power to the development of individuals; but this development of a consciousness of individual selfhood should be bent in a centripetal direction by an increasingly conscious and powerful allegiance to the rising trend toward Unity. Individuals must learn to act at the service of a common purpose and to be inspired by an integrative power.
Individuals nevertheless are "free" not to align their centralized and individualized energies — their wills. Their wills can resist the mounting trend toward the all-human experience of wholeness that develops through ever more inclusive modes of organization and co-active behavior. Their self-conscious egos and egocentric minds can cling to the experiences they can have as separate persons. If human beings do this, they become partial or total evolutionary failures.
In the next chapter I will discuss the problem of evolutionary failure. For now let us say that the possibility for it exists the moment the power of the Godhead polarizes Natural Man at the symbolic Noon. The powerful downpour of energy of quasi-absolute, "supreme" Oneness objectivized in the experience of the Avatar state engenders an equally supreme problem. A human being whose entire organism is flooded with that feeling-experience of quasi-absolute Oneness cries out, "I am the Onel" This cry is so powerful that most of those around him fall in awe and worship what they can relate to only distantly and vicariously. Eventually a cult or religion is formed which, more or less instinctively, establishes the fundamental assumptions and paradigms on which a culture develops on an exclusivistic basis.
From the point of view of Wholeness, this is the first failure; but it is also, perhaps inevitably, the result of the polarization linking the symbolic Midnight and Noon. Without this polarization, the trend toward ever more differentiated and separate forms of existence would continue, one might say, unchecked. The principle of Unity has to assert itself so powerfully that the total trend of the Movement becomes reoriented. In a symbolic "change of gears," Wholeness acts by suddenly reversing the direction of the Movement. The results of this reversal are overwhelming to the living organisms then developing on earth. These changes are outlined briefly in Genesis 6 beginning with the marriage of the "sons of God" and the "daughters of men." There may well have been an "original sin" in Eden (whatever Eden exactly means), but the results of the marriage constitute the collective failure of mankind — a vicarious experience of wholeness through the worship of a personalized and exclusive manifestation of Unity.
When human consciousness becomes individualized — that is, centralized by an ego dominating a rigid, formalistic mind — this once-collective failure becomes individual. The individualized person feels and experiences himself or herself as a separate whole, as being exclusively himself or herself — "I myself," unique, and therefore a god-like One. The alternative to such a negative end of the process of individualization is the radically transformative experience of belonging (at least potentially) to the vast Communion of Pleroma beings who experience Wholeness as a Community — or better still, as a "Commonsoul" (in contrast to the materialistic concept of a Commonwealth).
In other words, what essentially counts is the level at which the feeling-realization of Wholeness occurs in a human being. Wholeness even now can be experienced too soon by a weak, sentimentally personal, and unprepared mind (a form of consciousness). But a strong mind centralized and controlled by a powerful ego may be able to experience Wholeness only in terms of a separative and exclusivistic type of individual selfhood. Separativeness and an extreme, rigid refusal to belong to any greater whole leads to a crucial depletion of psychic energies and to an unbearable sense of isolation. Yet this inner emptiness must be filled; it is a spiritual hunger. The way to satisfy it leads to the dark path, the end of which is a state of quasi-absolute isolation — the state of a center without any circle, a mathematical point without substance or dimensionality. Such a state is the reverse of the Godhead state in which the spiritual harvest of all conceivable experiences and their meanings are condensed in a consciousness of nearly absolute unity and simplicity.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1983 by Dane Rudhyar
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