THE GIFT OF NON-IDENTIFICATION
A moment comes in every life when the individual passionately yearns to become identified with the beloved, and with the togetherness that grows out of steady relationship and sustained group-feeling. Having perceived the ideal of comradeship glowing in the sky of social living, having accepted the unknown that is beyond the landscaped gardens of the self, its adventures and its promises, the human mind has become open to the mighty winds that blow from the oceanic expanse of the Unconscious. Above, is the soul and its great dreams; below, the generic wholeness of humanity - sky and sea, ecstatic Images and tidal strength prolific with evolving lives.
The mind has caught the fever of immensity. The contagious fervor of unity whirls through the safety-devices which insulated the precious mechanisms of the ego from the electric potential of love. The one desire is now to be more than one is by being different from what one is. To lose one's insularity and to blend with others; to give one's mind away in betrothal to the whole and to merge in the unity of souls; to forego one's dreams and to flame forth with the vision of a Host - these are symptoms of the passion for identification that seizes every individual in the wake of some crucial metamorphosis.
There are men who act this passion with such a compact and compelling intensity that they become Avatars of Man-the-whole, Incarnations of Man's divinity. There are men whose being becomes so seized with the fecundant power of a great human mutation, biological or spiritual, that they resound like bells calling the multitudes to the new worship or the new advance. They are the prophets, the leaders and seers of humanity. But there are those also who are swept into elemental whirlpools that tear the very fabric of mind and body - who sink into sexual disintegration and mental sadism, eventually to become food for the dark powers of the Unsouled.
In its simplest and most primordial form this great yearning for identification is known as sex - and thus the zodiacal sign, Scorpio, has been traditionally linked with this basic activity in human experience. But sex - in its conscious and human aspect - is only the most elementary of the manifestations of an urge which sweeps through all the separate structures of the world of souls. Individual egos are just as susceptible to the passion for identification as biological organisms. The devotee who craves for complete self-surrender to his God, and the martyr who joyously dies in order to uphold the power of his Cause, give themselves just as surely to the objects of their loves as the woman in utter sexual abandon. The spirit of the moth goes into the flame which drew its passionate flight. Every soul is absorbed into that which it worships. Every consciousness becomes that with which it has consistently and fervently yearned to become identified.
The saying "As you think, so you become" is familiar to students of modern New Thought and of occult "metaphysics" in all ages. A more accurate formulation would seem to be: As your passion for identification is, so will be the substance of your total being. To "think" is normally not a sufficient means to effect a total transformation of being. At the Libra stage of evolution men "think" and even "act out" comradeship. They see the great vision and step into the circle of the great Dreamers. But not until the individual has experienced the passion for identification and the fire of "union" can his thinking and his dreams become himself, and he become them.
Nor is the term self-surrender adequate to express this mystery ritual of the all-consuming Fire. What is being "surrendered" is not the self, but the desire of the ego to remain separate; and one should not confuse the desire to remain separate with the power to stand as a witness even to one's own fiery death. The owner of the house surrenders his ownership, but not the house. He becomes the manager and trustee for the new owner, Man - or God. He surrenders the boundaries of his fears, and gains participation in the being of the universe. This, at least, is the goal; but few attain it. It is easier to die the death of the moth.
All spiritual living is a paradox. He who wishes to make his great dream live must become identified with the dream, and he who wishes to become divine must love god with all-consuming passion. Yet, the dreamer must remain a witness to his dream, if he is to avoid being absorbed by the very shadow of his ideal; and the devotee cannot "know" god except he remains as container of divinity. Identification can only succeed through the non-identification of the consciousness with the process of identification. To be consumed by the Fire, and nevertheless be tender of the flame - this is the goal. And this goal can only be reached by using this most magical gift of the spirit: the power of non-identification.
At the level of biological function, identification is of rhythm with rhythm. The dynamic pattern of union spreads from the sexual center in concentric circles until every nerve and every cell is touched by the fire. At the level of personal being, we know this process of at-one-ment as love; identification is of psychic and mental substance. The self is absorbed into the relationship.
At the level of consciousness, the ego identifies itself with Images - Images projected by great creative Intelligences, fed by the power of collective living, and enhanced by the devotion of a group of collective living, and enhanced by the devotion of a group of men, dead or alive. Some of these Images are entities with perennial lives within the collective Unconscious of nations, of religious groups and of humanity as a whole; and the power of these great Images can overwhelm the ego weary of the burden of its own selfhood. So many men, through so many centuries, have paid homage to these idols within the depths or the skies of collective mankind, have given to them the very substance of their souls! The images become indeed maelstroms of psychic energy.
A Mussolini dreams of power as a compensation for an acute neurotic sense of social inferiority; and lo! his consciousness is drawn to the potent magnet of the Caesar Image. The barriers of his rational mind bend under the inflow of power. A people's unconscious, that for so long had gravitated in the dark toward the glory-image, becomes massed for action as the Image is given once more conscious shape by the passion of a man whose ego, now, has become identified with the idol.
Here the identification is almost total and devastating. The devotee dies for his god, and with him, countless millions. But, if the god may be one fed by brutal power and by lust, he may be also an Image of light; he may be an amazing cosmic Being, such as have been worshipped by countless devotees of Star-Gods in ancient (and even modern) times. The greater the power of the Images, the greater the danger of total identification of the ego with this idol. And vast is the number of idols which draw to their hoary shrines the consciousness of weak or frightened, loving or desperate humans!
All men, women and children are living within a psychological sea teeming with countless Images with which they may become identified. Identification may signify weakness; it may reveal strength. Identification should be a stage of growth. The man established in spirit, secure in his individual Identity, journeys through it. Consciously, he enacts the part outlined by the Images. He is the fire, and he is the hearth. He is contained, and he is container. Though his entire being vibrates under the inrush of power, yet does he remain firm, knowing. He contains power as an engine contains explosive bursts of molecules. He enfolds and he uses that power which multitudes of lesser men have poured into the Image in passionate uncontrolled identification.
The power of non-identification bestowed upon man by the spirit is the power, not of self-containment, but of containment by the Self. Many definitions of the Self have been attempted, but the Self essentially eludes definition because only that which has a particular form can be defined, and the Self is the power to create at all times the form necessary to contain just the kind of power flooding a consciousness in the condition of identification with some Image of the Unconscious. The Self is the power to contain and to use any kind of power. It is the power not to be identified with the results of any and all identifications.
There must be identification if there is to be fullness of substance and power to use. Man must dare to lose his soul in order to reach the condition in which he can make use of the protean Soul of the Whole. He must dare to drink the glass as well as the water, and to find himself as nothing, before he may hope to gain the ability to utilize everything. This ability is the Self.
The Self is spirit in act, because spirit is that which acts wherever there is need for action - which means everywhere! The Self is the eternal Performer. It is action through form - any necessary action through any available form. He who has the power to perform any necessary action through any available form, and the power to restrain from performing any action that is not necessary - such a one is Self. He is spirit in act. He is free from identification, because he can use the powers born of identification with any Image necessary for whatever performance is required of him.
To perform effectively the action required of a father a man has to become so identified with the Image of fatherhood that he appears to his children as the Father. The great lover is he who can incorporate in his being the eternal image of woman's desire. All spectacular living is living in the name of an Image, or a god; for only such a living can command the allegiance of groups and collectivities. It is the Myth which triumphs, not the personality that has become invested with the power of the mystical Image. Great spiritual personages are, however, individuals who recast the form of the Myth into the mould of their own individual victories. They become identified with the Myth, but in them and from them, the Myth is born anew.
Jesus did incorporate the Image of "the Jewish Prophet". He became identified with it - yet he remained separate. He gave to the Image a new meaning, a new purpose, from the creative center of Self; and this made him Christ. In Jesus we see the identification; in Christ, the spiritual power of non-identification. This is what is really meant, psychologically, by the double appellation, "son of Man" and "son of God". God can only be reached through Man and through unreserved identification with human destiny. But he only can reach God who remains established in his own spiritual Identity, even while being burnt in the fire of his identification with humanity. In this achievement the magic of the ideal Scorpio is fulfilled in perfection.
The technique which leads to this is essentially the technique of ritual performance. In this technique, forms are built which give to the individual, or the group, the ability to contain the power released during the process of identification with the great Images of the Unconscious. These forms (structures of behavior, verbal formulations, consecrated gestures, tone-sequences, etc.) acquire resistant strength through exact repetition. They become containers of psychic power. They bind the will and attention of men, as chemistry binds molecules in the making of plastics. They are - if true to the spirit - the means whereby individuals can dare to meet unreservedly the powers born of relationship - social and international, as well as sexual and personal - without being "un-selved" by these powers.
Such ritualistic processes may apply to a man-woman unit, to a group of ceremonialists, to a nation, to humanity at large. They are as varied as are the requirements of particular problems of human relationship. While they change with places and eras, yet some fundamentals are found true anywhere and at any time - for these are expressions of the very structure of generic man.
There are times, however, during which a strong stress is placed upon the ritualistic evocation of Images and powers by human groups trained for this purpose; and during such periods individuals are intent upon arousing latent powers into the over-conscious or over-stable average ego. At other times there is no outstanding need for such an arousal, because the Images are almost spontaneously breaking to the surface of the consciousness. Then, the emphasis is placed upon the invocation of the spirit - and the insistent demand of men is for the power of non-identification, which alone can promise salvation from the tragic storms of the collective.
Evocative techniques lead to complex forms of rituals, and involve the co-operation of groups, small or large. Invocative techniques stress the concentrated action of the individual, largely on the plane of the mind. The former manifest in ceremonials of all kinds - in the fields of occult or religious action, in politics, in business, in war or victory. The latter operate mostly through what is known as prayer or occult meditation, or through individual artistic-literary expression.
In essence, the "invocation" is a call to the spirit; and as spirit always answers every vital need when the soul's gates are kept open to the spiritual inflow, this call is most effective where the need is greatest and most acutely realized. For this reason, the great saint is often a man whose early life has known the fiercest tragedies of "sin"; and the creative genius, a man whose personality poignantly lacks the very elements which give greatness to his message.
This is the glory and the tragedy of the human individual the mystery of man' 'before the threshold"; for man's power resides in his contrasts and his ability to will himself whole while most crucially torn by conflicts or polarities of feeling. Thus the most profound act of will is the will to become empty, that the spirit may fill the poignant void - the will to be earth, that god may answer with His sky and His lightnings - the will to compel God into incarnation, thus integrating the highest heights and the deepest depths. Man is contrast and paradox, the eternal chiaroscuro of light and shade. He is at his greatest where his dynamic passion is most acute, yet his wholeness most inclusive; when, in his soul, opposites forever meet in rhythmic and creative interplay.
Man is the moving passion of the universe. There is nothing so deep he cannot yearn to experience in crucial identifications. There is no depth that the spirit may not reach through the man poised in Self and serene at the core of all storms. Man is the fire and the hearth, the log and the sacrifice, the devotee and the sacrificer. All things are possible through man, evocator of power, invoker of power, invoker of God. All things are possible "with God".
An Astrological Triptych