FOUNDATIONS FOR A METAPHYSICS OF WHOLENESS
As we approach a metaphysical formulation of what we may call 'ultimates' of existence so as to present a consistent and understandable picture of atoms, men, universes and of what has to be implied as a transcendent background or foundation for such a formulation, it may be well to state that what I shall be doing is not intellectually inventing a new model of the universe, but simply trying to extract from the very facts of human experience their most universal implications.
If man is confronted in his earliest and most basic experiences with the fact of unceasing change and (what seems to him, rightly or not) randomness or chance happening, and also with the realization that within that change there are order, periodicity and cyclic patterns of unfoldment, then we can use this dualism, generalizing and interpreting it so as to reach certain universal and metaphysical conclusions. As we are aware of motion and activity everywhere, we have to deduce from this activity the release of something we call energy. We observe the birth, development and decay of living organisms and of various kinds of wholes of activity; we therefore deduce from this the operation of some integrative power which establishes and maintains or transforms the identifiable characteristics of these organisms or organized systems of activity.
The true philosopher is not an inventor, but rather an interpreter. His aim is to provide man with a world-picture which gives meaning, consistency, direction and purposefulness to human existence at all levels. He therefore should begin with facts generally experienced or at least experienceable by those to whom he addresses himself, but he cannot, should not stop at facts; nor should he lose himself in analyzing and dissecting them for the ambitious purpose of eventually controlling them, for that is the task of the scientist and engineer. He must pierce through the facts as if they were gates to greater wisdom. Symbolically speaking, he must try to "see" the full grown oak within the acorn, the pattern of universal cycles within illumined moments of consciousness in which his entire being resonates to the rhythm of the universe in whose being he participates, alas, most often unconsciously. He must pass from the contemplation of a living organism to the feeling-intuition of "life" within him as within the whole biosphere of our Earth.
If he knows how to persist in his flight toward an ever wider knowledge, he can feel the pulse of the universe — its in and out breathings. And because there are always spheres beyond spheres which he can perceive or intuitively apprehend, he should be able to reach a still more essential state of abstract understanding — in, through and beyond dimensional wholes and processes of emerging and disintegrating. In such a state of consciousness he would be able to grasp the meaning of ultimate principles which are both transcendent and immanent — principles nowhere to be seen in strictly existential terms, but whose presence and influence can be felt intuitively everywhere.
The chapters which follow are the result of a man's long striving after understanding and wisdom. They may seem at first abstract and metaphysical; yet today, in a society in a state of radical crisis, their contents are of the greatest importance in the development of consciousness. The world-pattern they represent is evidently not essentially new. It has many antecedents, but it is formulated in quite a new way and I believe that this way has a great deal of practical bearing on our present-day problems and especially on the protests of our youth against the obsolescent, if not obsolete, world-outlook of our traditional religions and our social-cultural Establishment. Thus these forthcoming pages should not be considered as an intellectual exercise based on some flight of world-transcending imagination; instead they should be read and pondered carefully as a possible key to the discovery of a new world of 'reality' — a world of great rhythms and profound peace, a world freed from anxiety and religious fears or guilt.
Ultimates of Existence
The picture of the world which modern science presents is one of universal and unceasing motion. But though it includes an element of randomness, this motion is not chaotic or haphazard; it is ordered motion — motion within more or less clearly defined and relatively permanent fields. Existence implies the fact of wholes of existence wholes which are composed of parts and at the same time are themselves functioning parts of greater wholes. Because a whole is composed of a multiplicity of parts or elements in a state of ordered interrelatedness and interdependence, there must be operating within this whole some kind of structuring power — or, more abstractly, a Principle of Wholeness endowed with the power to integrate disparate elements and to maintain effectively the pattern of their organization within the field of their operation and throughout the span of existence of the whole.
I have called this Principle of Wholeness ONE, because such a simple all-capitalized term avoids the mythological, religious and emotional implications of most other available terms. When written in capital letters the word, SELF, is used in the same sense. It refers to the integrating principle and power which establishes the fundamental rhythm, tone and individuality of a whole, i.e., its relatively permanent identity in the midst of constant changes, internal as well as external. When I speak of the self of a particular man or of a particular universe, I am referring to the unity-aspect of that entire human person, or of that universe. The multiplicity aspect of these wholes — human and cosmic — would then refer to the myriad parts or component lesser wholes (cells and stars) contained within and active within these wholes.
Every whole has thus as its foundation a self; this self is however only an existential expression of the abstract and metacosmic Principle of Wholeness, SELF or ONE. This Principle is not an entity. It operates everywhere, at all times, wherever and whenever there are existential wholes of any and all sizes. Existence can only be conceived in terms of existents, that is, in terms of relatively individual fields of activity with more or less definite boundaries and with a basic rhythm of their own upon which certain individual or generic characteristics are based.
Motion with reference to wholes should be conceived as activity; thus I have spoken of atoms, men or solar systems as fields of activities. Every existent constitutes a field of activities; these activities are (in the broadest sense of the term) functional because they are interrelated, interdependent, and structured by an integrative power. We will see presently that this integrative power operates in two ways or at two levels. In its most abstract sense it is what has been called the Principle of Wholeness, ONE; but it is also that Power which structures or gives 'form,' abstractly speaking, to the existential field of activities. We shall see that this Power is one of the two basic aspects of what we will have to call, for lack of better terms, consciousness and mind — but not the aspect usually associated in the West with these confusing words.
Activity presupposes a release of energy; but here again we have to deal with terms which can be understood, in many ways, and therefore which need to be defined. Energy is usually defined in elementary physics as the capacity to perform work. It is difficult however for the mind of the ordinary man not to refer this capacity and this performance of work to some entity which is able to perform. Performing means acting through (per) a form. The human mind finds it hard not to take for granted that activity requires an actor, and performance a performer using a form exterior to himself.
Energy can be conceived in two aspects: potential and kinetic. A pianist ready to perform a composition or an improvisation using the form of a piano has potential energy which he releases as he plays. From this fact, man in most cases has deduced that as existence is a release of potential energy through existential forms cosmic, biological, atomic, personal-human — there must also be a Releaser, a super-existential Performer, God. This God, as external to the universe as the pianist is to his piano, 'desires' to create an existential universe in order to 'enjoy' the realization of His infinite power and capacity for self-expression through a multitude of forms. He is essentially transcendent to the universe, even though as performer he is also immanent in the performance. He is, from the Hindu point of view, the One Player — the One Actor in all existential activities. To the follower of the Hebraic-Christian tradition, this God made man in His image, and therefore man as a God-created Soul is transcendent to his body. Man expresses himself in his life-performance according to his unique character and 'free' will; and his performance may be wonderful or awful leading him eventually to Heaven or to Hell.
According to this anthropomorphic picture of existence and of what is beyond and above existence, God is the One, the Supreme Being — for the Vedantist He is "One without a second." He is absolute Unity. But the difficulty — indeed the basic impossibility evident in all purely monistic metaphysics, is how to pass from this "One without a second" to the world of a multitude of individual existents — a world which includes the individual person who is speaking about this One without a second. This presents a rather awkward situation. If there is in God a "desire to be many," as is often stated by religious metaphysicians, then this desire is actually the seed of multiplicity. A unity in which multiplicity is latent is no longer really an absolute unity; and calling the world of multiplicity an illusion is merely intellectual prestidigitation.
The term, unity, is therefore not to be considered as an absolute. What we are speaking of is a state of wholeness rather then that of unity. The pianist who wants to express his emotions or who seeks satisfaction, money or fame through his performance is a whole of drives, thoughts, desires, emotions and bodily activities — not a unity. In his performance the potential energy related to some of these components of his total personality becomes kinetic energy, i.e., released energy. But he is not alone in the world, and the release of his energy is motivated by some kind of need, even if it is only the need to release a surplus of energy in the activity of playing or, as we say, just for the fun of it.
When I speak of ONE, I do not mean a One, a Supreme Being; but rather a Principle of Wholeness which operates without essential differentiation equally in every whole, be it an atom, a man or a galaxy. Without the operation — or should we rather say the catalytic 'presence'? — of ONE there would be no existent, no whole of activities, no limited field of existence, and no finite cycle of time — only a diffuse flow or an explosive release of energy.
However, this ONE, this Principle of Wholeness, is not responsible for the existential fact of motion, of energy being released. It is only responsible for the fact that all releases of energy occur in units of energy; thus, in the terminology of modern science, as quanta of energy. A universe is born in the release of a tremendous quantum of energy. Any existential cycle (or any process of existence) begins in a single release of energy. Where does this kinetic energy come from? The theistic conception is that it comes from God, the cosmic Performer Whose infinite, omnipotent Being contains an infinite potentiality of energy-release, i.e., of creative activity.
According to the cyclocosmic and holistic world-picture presented here, the process of release is different, and more understandable. The concept of God is retained, but not as an absolute. God can still be considered as the source of the energy-flow released "in the beginning" of a universal cycle of existence; but a source is (strictly speaking) a place at which water emerges into visibility. From some deep underground current or lake, water flows through the source. The vocal sounds which a man utters are released through his throat and lips; but the energy and the emotional (or intellectual) contents of the vocal sounds come from the whole human organism.
Such illustrations are evidently not to be taken literally. They are simply meant to show by familiar image-symbols that the energy released into the field of activity of a cosmos — be it macrocosm or microcosm — emerges into existence in a single act THROUGH a One, but FROM what we may conceive figuratively as an infinite Ocean of potential energy.
Potentiality and Actuality
The words 'potential' and 'potentiality' are very important in the philosophy I am presenting. Their relation to 'actual' and 'actuality' should be clearly understood, for nearly everything else depends upon this relation and the way in which it is conceived. If I use the term, potentiality, instead of possibility, it is because while what is possible may or may not manifest in terms of actual existential fact, what is potential, (as I use this word,) will inevitably be actualized at some time and in some field of space.
Metaphysically speaking, this distinction between possibility and potentiality is of the utmost importance, especially insofar as the character of God or ultimate Reality is concerned. According to the theistic concept, of which the Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the earliest expression, God is essentially transcendent to the universe He has created in as much as this universe actualizes only a few of the infinite number of possibilities which God's infinite imagination could conceive and His omnipotent will could actualize. In the Gita, Krishna says: "Having produced this universe with a part of myself, I remain separate and undiminished." Such a concept is anthropomorphic, for it is a deification of what takes place when a creative artist, who has produced a work of art, in a sense withdraws from it, yet remains in possession of immense possibilities of future creations. For such an artist these future creations constitute only possibilities, because he can just as well not concretely actualize them as realize them.
According to my cyclocosmic world-picture, what is potential will be actualized. The Ocean of infinite potentialities not only contains in latency every possible mode of existence — or we might say every possible solution to the infinitely complex problem of existence — but all these possibilities have been, are or will be actualized as an infinity of universes in infinite Duration and infinite Spatiality.
This means that there is a fundamental relationship between the Infinite Potential and the multiplicity of modes of existence. If on the other hand one thinks of God as 'separate' from the universe, and this universe actualizing only some of the possibilities in His divine Consciousness when it pleases Him, there is then no essential relationship between this transcendent God and the realm of existence. He may 'desire' such a relationship and create a universe, but on the other hand, He as well may not. If, moreover, His creativity remains, as it were, within Himself and only a Play (in Sanskrit, Lila) of His imagination, so that he is truly the One Actor and the world is what is translated as 'illusion' (maya), then existence is indeed a dreamlike play of shadows on the screen of God's Mind; which is perhaps what the Javanese Wajang shadow-plays were meant to suggest.
When however the Infinite Potential is figuratively conceived as an infinite womb out of which all possible modes and forms of existence must emerge into actuality — and, as we shall presently see, this emergence occurs when the need for these forms is realized at the end-stage of the cyclic development of consciousness — then the metaphysical-cosmic picture is indeed basically different. As already stated, this picture establishes a fundamental relationship between the Infinite Potential and the condition of existence — the many universes and all the cyclocosmic wholes they enfold. This relationship is the most fundamental fact. It is a relationship between potentiality and actuality, and therefore between the as-yet-not-manifested and the to-be-manifested, which includes also the already-manifested but no-longer-existent.
Such a relationship, conceived in terms of infinite Duration, must have a cyclic character or else we could not speak of an ordered universe whose fundamental keynotes are Rhythm and Harmony. We can think of it in terms of a periodical alternation of states of manifestation and non-manifestation; and this is the picture presented by traditional Hinduism which tells of an infinite succession of manvantaras (periods of cosmic existence) and of pralayas (periods of total non-existence or divine rest) — each period lasting many trillions of our human years.
It is questionable, however, whether this picture of a quasi-absolute alternation of periods of manifestation and non-manifestation is the deepest one that the subtle Hindu mentality conceived; it may be only a popular or exoteric image suggested by the process of breathing — exhalation and inhalation. We may find a more convincing and more fruitful picture in the ancient philosophy of China; for there we find that two cosmic Principles, Yin, and Yang, are constantly interrelated, one waxing in intensity as the other wanes, then vice versa. If these two Principles are equated with the conditions of non-manifestation and of manifestation (i.e., with potentiality and actuality) we see that the manifested and the unmanifested states are always present but in cyclically varying degrees of strength. If this is the case, then the whole picture of existence changes; and it changes in a way that is probably more comprehensible to the modern mind and more productive of constructive results.
In the Chinese picture — represented by the well-known Tai Chi symbol — Yin and Yang are enclosed within a circle. Their relationship at every point is a dynamic one; it leaves no room for any static rest-period. It changes at every moment. But there is That which encompasses all phases of the forever cyclically changing relationship between the two Principles. That is TAO; and this TAO is the changeless Harmony of the bi-polar Wholeness of Reality. We say Wholeness because TAO cannot be conceived as 'unity,' but rather as Harmony, as the polyphonic interplay of two principles of existence.
The Chinese concept of TAO and of the cyclic process of Yang and Yin can be applied to any particular cyclocosm — universe, man, or atom. It can refer to the cycle of the year, of a man's life, or of a universe's life — cycles having a beginning and an end. But in this present discussion, I am not only thinking of existence as a dynamic process starting with the release of a quantum of energy and a particular set of defined potentialities which will become actualized in the omega condition at the end of the cycle. I am dealing with the relationship between the actual fact of existence with all it implies and the infinite potentiality of existence — that is, this Ocean of potentiality which to our minds can only appear to be 'non-existence.' Such a relationship is therefore to be considered as a purely metaphysical concept. Yet we will see that this concept, abstract as it may seem at first, can be seen to apply to man's most basic approach to what we call spirituality.
It can be so applied because if existence and non-existence — or actuality and potentiality — are in a state of constant relatedness now and at all times, then our approach to existence itself becomes radically transformed. To put it more simply, this would mean that an individual person — a human cyclocosm — can experience at all times both existence and non-existence. For him, life does not merely mean passing through the successive phases of his existential cycle from birth to death. At all times he is partially living and partially dying. He is unceasingly balanced between states of actualization and states of potentiality — perhaps of 're-potentialization.' As a baby, the potentiality-polarity is dominant; he is more potential than actual. As the human being matures and performs his work he increasingly actualizes his innate birth-potential, and therefore the potentiality factor in him decreases. In old age, especially if he has lived a very full life, the accumulation of what he has actualized weighs upon his consciousness; his thought and feeling-patterns lose their potentiality for change and readjustment, and sclerosis or senility may gradually lead to physical death — or to what the physicist might call the victory of entropy and an eventual return to chemical undifferentiation.
But this is only one side of the picture. The aging human organism loses its potency — its capacity to release power in terms of energy-consuming activities. But an opposite process also takes place, or at least could take place, and this in a most significant manner. As the body gradually loses its potency a new kind of consciousness can develop. The aging man may grow into radiant wisdom, and a process of re-potentialization can take place in polar opposition to the process of physical outwearing and disintegration. 'Power' and 'consciousness' constitute another basic dualism in the process of existence; and through consciousness, existence itself may be transcended.
The term, consciousness, can be understood in many ways. It is particularly confusing because of its association with "mind" another term which can be given various meanings. It seems essential therefore to clearly state what these words represent in a cyclocosmic and holistic philosophy.
Consciouness, Wholeness and Relatedness
Every existential whole sufficiently integrated to possess an individual rhythm of existence structuring a consistent interplay of functional activities is conscious; but there are many grades of consciousness just as there are levels of integration. What we usually call consciousness in the human sense is what Teilhard de Chardin calls "reflective consciousness." It is consciousness turning back upon itself and becoming both centered and structured by a collective, social cultural set of patterns of responses to existence as well as by an individual ego — what scientists would probably call a feedback process. But every existential whole has some kind of consciousness, however vague and diffuse it may be. In its primary form and at the biological level of organization consciousness is more like sentiency;at a higher level we can speak of feeling-responses and sensitivity and recent experiments have shown how amazingly sensitive plants are, a sensitivity which seems to include even most definite feeling responses to human thinking*. But there is no reason to deny a kind of consciousness even to what we call inorganic matter — to atoms and molecules.
*cf. the experiments conducted by Clive Backster and reported by Peter Thompkins and Christopher Bird in The Secret Life of Plants Avon, New York, 1973 which imply that not only plants, but cells as well resonate or react to whatever happens to living organisms in their neighborhood; which in turn seems to indicate that the entire biosphere somehow constitutes an integrated field.
Consciousness is wholeness in operation. It is the most basic expression of relatedness. In existential wholes consciousness is relatedness referred to a relatively steady and organized system of interdependent activities. It grows in complexity, intensity and quality during the process of evolution of such systems. The more complex and lasting the patterns of interrelatedness and interacting changes, the more developed consciousness is within the whole.
The component parts of a whole are related to each other and are in constant functional interplay; and out of these interactions an internal consciousness is produced which has a basically systemic or organismic character. This kind of consciousness in the human being of today is actually below the threshold of what we usually call consciousness, even though it has repercussions upon and indeed affects the development of the ego-consciousness. This ego-consciousness is mainly based upon external relationships — i.e., relationships to the person's environment, to the people and the culture which surround the child's development from the time of and even before his birth. In the preceding chapter I spoke of matricial and associative relationships. A definite type of consciousness is implied in each type; however the ego usually has a remarkable way of jumbling and misinterpreting these two modes of consciousness, producing complexes as a result.
The character of both the relationships and the consciousness formalized by these relationships depends on the level of integration at which the conscious whole operates. The principle of integration, ONE, is in itself without character and qualification. It simply is an ever present constantly effective force inherent in all releases ofenergy originating a definite cycle of existence. We may think of ONE also as the basic Law of existence; but the terms, force and law, — or one might also say catalytic Presence, — are obviously inadequate. Perhaps gravitation can be considered as the basic aspect of ONE at the level of materiality. At the level of what we call living organisms able to maintain, heal, reproduce and transform themselves ONE operates as Life. It may be thought of as universal Love at the level of relatedness corresponding to feelings. It is also that which brings consciousness to a formed focus as mind.
The important point however is to realize that as we use this term here, ONE does not mean a One, a mysterious Supreme Being active everywhere. In a sense it is similar to and probably identical with the Hindu concept of atman. From our modern point of view it may really be called the Principle of Existence, in as much as existence can only be conceived in terms of wholes of existence, and ONE is the Principle of Wholeness in every whole, in every cyclocosm.
Consciousness therefore may be thought of as the aura of wholeness. Just as wholeness implies relatedness in all forms and at all levels of existential activity, it also implies consciousness. However, one can conceive of a type of consciousness which in a sense transcends the state of wholeness, though it is still implied in relatedness. It refers to the relationship already mentioned between existence and non-existence — which is more precisely the relationship between actual existence and the infinite potentiality of existence.
When we speak of infinite potentiality we transcend, as it were, the level at which ONE is operative within any and all wholes, whether it be atom, man or universe. That which is infinite is not whole. When we speak of time in terms of cycles of immensely varied length, time belongs to the realm of wholes; and so do spatial fields of force within whose boundaries the activities inherent in these wholes take place. When however we associate the concept of time with that of infinity we should speak of 'infinite Duration'. Likewise we should not speak of infinitely extended space-fields, but rather of Spatiality, or (in a most abstract and transcendent sense) of SPACE as the infinite potentiality of emergence of finite fields. This infinite potentiality can become actualized not only in cosmic wholes of many dimensions, but as well in the dimensionless mathematical point. Infinite Duration also transcends all concepts of length of cycle; it is the potentiality of the vastest eon of time, but also of the most mystical concept of the instant, the timeless moment.
The essential point is that there is a relationship between, on the one hand the Infinite Potential, and on the other all conceivable forms of existence. It is a transcendent type of relationship in as much as one of the poles of it, the Infinite Potential, has a transcendent character. It is not a relationship between wholes existing at the same level (so-called horizontal relationship); or one between a lesser whole and the greater whole of which it is also a component part (vertical relationship). It is a relationship between the Infinite and any-and-all finite wholes. We cannot say that the Infinite really contains the finite; neither would it be exact to say that the Infinite Potential gives birth to a finite whole, a universe — except as a symbolic figure of speech. I have spoken of an emergence of a universal whole out of the infinite Ocean of potentialities; but this is only a symbolic figure of speech. The traditional symbol of all creative beginnings is the appearance of a dot at the center of a circle; but before the dot appears there is really no circle — only 'nothingness.' Yet this nothingness is to be understood as the Infinite Potentiality of every imaginable thing.
The most important fact is that existence takes form in relation to this nothingness which is the potentiality of everything. Thus, wecannot really picture something 'emerging' out of this nothing; for 'nothing' is not a place. Yet something — the germ of the cosmos, and in a sense any germinal beginning — begins to exist in relation to the infinite Potential. . . which 'is-not.' We should therefore try to understand this relation; and the only way we can understand it with any degree of rationality and consistency is to realize that it operates in several modes. It is operating in the process which leads from the Infinite Potential to actual existence; secondly, during cycles of existence; and thirdly, in the process which constitutes the transition from a closing cycle of existence to the Infinite Potential. If the picture we make of this relationship is to be symmetrical we also have to imagine this relationship in its most transcendent character when existence seems to be entirely absorbed in non-existence. Existence however can no more be entirely absorbed in non-existence than the polarity Yang can ever be entirely overcome by the power of Yin; and this is what the Hindu world-picture fails to show.
The end-results of a universal cycle of existence, at least in a figurative sense, 'return to' the infinite Ocean of potentiality, but they do not utterly vanish into it. They 'are' in it in two opposite conditions because, as I shall presently explain, every cycle of existence ends in a state of extreme duality. This duality is opposed to ONE,and this opposition compels the emergence of a future universe — a future cycle of time and a cosmic field of existence.
Why this state of duality at the end of a cycle of existence? Because — and this is a fact which we experience in so many ways — the release of any potentiality of existence leads to both positive and negative results; or, in human terms, to success and failure. Thus every universal cycle of existence ends with (1) a unified group of existents in whom the potential purpose inherent in the initial creative Impulse (or creative Word) that gave birth to the cycle finds perfect fulfillment, and (2) a mass of waste material, the disintegrated remains of the existential wholes and minds which failed to actualize the functional purpose for the fulfillment of which they were produced.
A third possibility undoubtedly has to be considered, that of only partial success at the end of the cycle; but I shall not discuss it here in order not to complicate the picture. Of course the student of Christianity will not fail to relate these situations to Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Such religious concepts, however valuable they may have been at some historical period, can at best be considered only as symbolical representations of the states of fulfillment and non-fulfillment to which I am referring, and which can be related, as we shall see, to actual existential facts in the realm of life.
We may put this in other words by saying that the problem of existence can always have two opposite kinds of solution. The very fact of existence in terms of wholes — of finite fields of activity having a particular form — implies both an 'inside' and an 'outside'; it implies the need to relate the inside to the outside, and vice versa. Wholeness, relatedness, consciousness are terms, I repeat, the meanings of which are rooted in the same fact of existence. In man the refusal to be related — born essentially of fear — leads to a negative type of wholeness, i.e., to the utter isolation of the individual from his surroundings. As a result the relationship of this individual to the greater whole of which he is a part turns negative; and we have then the great symbol of cancer — the cell or group of cells proliferating in a negative, isolationistic relationship to the whole organism.
The refusal to relate and the refusal to love produce a type of consciousness crystallizing into a mind-structure — a form of consciousness — which operates destructively under the power of a tyrannical ego. This ego has cut itself off from sustaining relationships to the greater whole within which the individual person was born to function. Through predatory acts and a process of vampirizing, it may manage to survive for a time, perhaps for a long time at the level of mind, but sooner or later it must disintegrate and reach a condition of chaos.
This condition is also a condition of potentiality. For instance, manure, and the chemicals resulting from the autumnal disintegration of leaves, can be food for the growth of almost any future plant; but manure represents potentiality in a condition of inertness or, one might say, of total indifference to existence. On the contrary, the unified host of perfect Beings who 'return' to the state of potentiality at the close of a planetary or cosmic cycle, reach that state as a positive, arousing factor. They have reached an all-encompassing consciousness — an eonic consciousness — to which nothing that existed throughout the vast cycle during which they achieved success could possibly be alien or of no concern. They have become, in their togetherness and unanimity, the cycle itself, the Eon; and because of this fact, wholeness, relatedness and consciousness in them operate as absolute Compassion.
Back of, within and through this Compassion, ONE operates. It is at that supreme level, the compulsion of relatedness which must seek a way to bring together in a new universe the successful Ones and the disintegrated failures. This way must be found by the successful Ones. As a unanimistic whole of consciousness — a Pleroma — they envision the Image of a new universe in which the failures of the old cycle will have as it were, a 'second chance,' to experience wholeness, consciousness and relatedness within organic wholes.
Success and failure are two inevitable polarities of existence. Every release of potentiality as power to be used poses a problem, a crucial dilemma: Will the power be used constructively or destructively? Will it mean success or failure to the entities using it? The answer depends on the capacity for relationship of the user. At the level of human beings who have reached a state of conscious individualization we can equate the capacity to enter into positive relationships with other human beings with 'love'; but love here means the capacity not merely to relate emotionally and/or possessively with someone else, particularly of the opposite sex, but to relate with that person in terms of what this relationship of love will bring to a greater whole — whatever be the type of greater whole within which the lovers can consciously feel themselves participants.
Consciousness here is the crucial factor, because at the truly individualized stage of human evolution, unconscious love and indeed all forms of unconscious relationships can mean a negative, passive return to some sort of prenatal condition. The French speak of l'egoisme a deux, where a man and a woman become so involved in one another as to reconstitute, as it were, the bi-polar state which occult traditions claim to have been the condition of man in the beginning — the condition symbolized in Genesis by Adam before Eve appeared, thus before the principle of duality superseded the passive, reflective condition of unity. Conscious love is love dedicated to an ever greater sense of wholeness, to a quality of relatedness which increasingly forgets the exclusiveness and egocentric limitations of instinctual, biological and emotional, thus actually unconscious love.
The progressive development and expansion of consciousness is the one essential factor when man has emerged from his dependence upon matricial relationships — when mankind as a whole, or an individual person, has reached the state of real maturity. This theoretically occurs at the mid-point of the life-cycle — a fact which Dante used as the starting point of his mystical adventure in The Divine Comedy. But this need not be the exactly chronological midpoint. What is implied in the concept of this mid-point is that at that time a new type of relationship between potentiality and actuality is theoretically possible.
I have said a few paragraphs back that the relationship between potentiality and actuality operates in several modes or conditions, that is, (1) in the process which leads from the Infinite Potential to actual existence, (2) as it exists during the cycle of existence, (3) as it operates during the transition from the ending cycle to a 'return' to the state of potentiality, and also (4) during the condition of pure, but not absolute potentiality which is a state of relative non-existence. Man reaches the 'bottom' of his cycle of existence when the power released at the beginning of the cycle reaches a point of relative equilibrium, before the waning phase begins, involving a decrease in organismic vitality. In a sense this cyclic moment resembles somewhat the fall equinox when day and night are of equal length, and the seed is formed within the fruit. The formation of the seed marks the beginning of the dying process in the yearly plant. Something happens within the plant; the species-as-a-whole is being focused in the seed. This means that the potentiality for a resurgent life begins to manifest in that seed, just as the power which operated within the parent-plant begins to wane.
This potentiality for a future cycle is expressed not in terms of a release of energy or power, as was the case at the beginning of the cycle (Phase One of the relationship between potentiality and actuality), but in terms of a rise of consciousness. The first half of the cycle saw a most basic expression of power through activity; the second half witnesses, in the vegetable kingdom, the growth of the seed and its liberation from the dying plant, and in the human kingdom — if man is really man, i.e., a conscious individual person — the development of a gradually more independent consciousness able to operate in a mind which no longer should reflect, more or less passively, the collective mentality of a culture and social-religious tradition. Instead it should become consciously aware of and should respond to the fundamental rhythm of the self, i.e., of the man's true individuality (in Sanskrit, his dharma — his "truth of being").
As used here the term mind does not refer to a composite mass of intellectual information and operative formulas more or less well-organized by a type of traditional thinking process, or a computer-like kind of brain-mechanism. The true or authentic mind is an organism of consciousness attuned to the rhythm of the self, and with an increasing capacity for being unaffected by and free from biosocial drives or compulsions — as a seed becomes increasingly free from the plant and either falls to the soil, or is carried to new land by the wind of a new destiny.
It is the potentiality of such a gradually freer, more independent and authentic mind which is impressed upon the individual's consciousness at the theoretical mid-period of the life-cycle; and the last half of this life-cycle should be essentially consecrated to the actualization of this potentiality of such a 'seed-mind', in individualized man. In so far as humanity-as-a-whole is concerned, the ultimate end of this process of actualization is the perfect state of multiunity of the Pleroma of Man — the host of Perfected Soul-Minds who in their unanimous togetherness represent the 'success' aspect of the omega phase of the human-planetary cycle. As this phase is reached the purpose of the existential process is fulfilled in actual concrete fact. The omega has realized what the alpha had projected into existence as the creative Word of Power.
This, nevertheless, is only the 'success' aspect. The 'failure' aspect is the mass of waste-products and disintegrating human mental stuff reaching, in unconsciousness, the condition of chaos — a chaos which polarizes the divine state of Pleroma-consciousness. The autumnal leaves decay into pungent humus after a brief glowing phase of golden or red splendor; they polarize in chemical death the immortality of the seeds. This immortality is only relative, for the seed will die into the future plant; but nevertheless the seed will have become the focal point for the creative action of a whole species of earthly life, and indeed an 'agent' for the vast life of the greater Whole, the planet Earth.
Likewise the 'seed man' in whom the potentiality of an eventual fulfillment of Pleroma-consciousness has become actualized, at least to some degree, also reaches what may be called immortality in mind. This mind may have become in some cases an independent organism of consciousness whose individual identity is not destroyed by death. Conscious immortality so understood is the goal sought after by all truly occult disciplines; but it is quite evidently not the type of so-called soul survival to which spiritualistic groups refer rather unconvincingly, considering the type of message usually conveyed by what they believe to be surviving souls.
In the next chapter, I shall attempt to outline, as briefly as is consistent with clarity of thought, the pattern of unfoldment of a cosmic cycle of existence. Now in concluding this chapter dealing with the fundamentals of a metaphysics of wholeness, I would like to present the following remarks which may elucidate some of the basic concepts we have been discussing by restating their inter-relationship in a more condensed manner.
The process of existence can never be really understood on the basis of an absolute kind of monism, with One God as solely responsible for every activitiy in it — as the sole 'Reality' — and everything else as more or less an 'illusion'. Neither can existence be validly interpreted on a purely pluralistic basis featuring a kind of spiritual individualism somehow functioning in the midst of a material universe in which more or less rigid laws of Nature operate without any understandable origin. Everywhere, at all times, even beyond existential time and space-fields, the principle of polarity operates. Two trends of opposite polarities are recognizable, directly or intuitively. But within these two trends a third factor is always present, though its presence operates in several different ways, at different levels.
I have called this 'presence' ONE. We cannot define it precisely because of the different ways in which it manifests, but it can best be understood as the Principle of Wholeness; for wholeness is the all inclusive Fact. It is the fact which all existents explicit. It is implicit in the potentiality of existence, beyond any finite existents, beyond any cycle of time and limited space-fields.
To speak of a trinitarian view of reality would nevertheless be rather misleading: ONE does not belong to the realm of number. It is a Principle that is effective above, yet within, numeration. It is not to be confused with number one. It is implied as well in number two — in any number. It is even implied in the concept of infinity, just because it is a 'concept' formulated by the minds of existents who are wholes of existence. It is implied in every word I am writing now, because I exist — "I" whose power-of-existence is a self — and selfhood is an aspect of ONE.
At the beginning of any cycle of existence ONE manifests within "the One" that is the creative Impulse of existence during that cycle — the originating Word or Logos. ONE manifests in the quantum of energy released as a unit of the power that will differentiate into the varied modes of energies necessary for the unfoldment of this process of existence. ONE manifests in every existential whole, every cyclocosm. It manifests in the atom and the molecule at the level of materiality — in the cell and the organism at the level of life — in the consciousness of man at the level of ideity. ONE manifests at the level of divinity in the Pleroma of perfected Beings, (which for the Catholic believer is the Communion of Saints, and for the Theosophist, the White Lodge). As all-encompassing Compassion it brings together in creative relationship existence and non-existence — perfectly actualized and the possibility of a new existential cycle.
To speak of ONE as 'God' and then of God as 'He' makes no philosophical sense. It is quite probable, however, that a mystic like Meister Eckhardt had a real intuition of the ubiquitous presence of ONE when he spoke of the Godhead as a mystical reality beyond God. The Hindu concept of Parabrahman might also be interpreted in a similar sense, with Mulaprakriti somehow referring to what I call the Infinite Potential; but it would seem that the tendency in the Hindu mind was to think of Parabrahman as transcendentally superior to Mulaprakriti, or (as in Sri Aurobindo's metaphysics) to speak of one absolute Brahman in two aspects — manifested and unmanifested. The human mind seems overeager to think of any ultimate Reality or Essence as a Something, even if it is implied that this Something is also Nothing. The Chinese intuition of Tao is more like what I am attempting intuitively to picture as ONE; and in India we have also the concept of Tat which, while it is often equated with Brahman, should really be considered in a different light, that is, as a Principle.
In the Chinese symbol of the Tai Chi, the two comma-like figures of Yin and Yang (black and white, non-manifestation and manifestation, night and day, etc.) are enclosed within a circle which they totally fill; and the tendency is to say that Tao is represented by the circle. But while Tao is represented symbolically by the circle, it is not the circle, and especially not the circumference binding, as it were, the interplay of the two polarities; or it is so only when these polarities, Yin and Yang, are seen operating within an existential whole, though this whole be the entire cosmos. Tao — at least if seen as identical to what I call ONE — does not include Yin and Yang (as existence and non-existence). It is implied in both existence and nonexistence. It inheres in their relationship. It is the rhythm of the relationship between actuality-of-existence and potentiality-of-existence. It is 'present' everywhere — in the circle of the most extensive cosmic field of existence, but also in the dimensionless mathematical point which symbolizes spatiality in its condition of non-manifestation. It is present throughout the vastest cycle of cosmic existence which one can conceive, but just as much in the mystical "instant" in which, in a flash of eonic consciousness, cyclic time is apprehended in a state of all-inclusive condensation. Buddhist philosophers refer to such a flash of eonic consciousness as Sammasambuddhi, the instant of total lucidity which immediately preceded the realization of the Nirvana state by Gautama the Buddha.
All that I have just said concerning ONE is, of course, only symbolic. It deals with the manifestations of ONE at levels about which I am able to project some kind of concept with inevitably inadequate words. 'Nothing' or 'the Void' is also a concept. To speak of 'Imagelessness' is still to present an Image; just as the anti-novel of vanguard authors is still a form of novel. I hope nevertheless that what I have said may awaken or arouse in at least some minds an intuitive consciousness which transcends, though it certainly should not exclude, the Image of an all-powerful, all-loving God Who is 'He,' Who created the universe and the souls of every human being, and Who is to be adored. The need for such a God-image is psychologically obvious; this Image is deeply rooted in the collective Unconscious of mankind. It has power, the power to arouse intense feeling, transforming faith and indeed, it seems evident, to perform what we call miracles. It is a channel through which a human being in distress and in need can relate himself effectually to at least a wavelet of the infinite Ocean of potentiality. No one in his senses would want to deprive humanity of such a channel; and to assert that there is no God is just as absurd as to claim that God is a person with a beard sitting on a throne, Whose judgments send immortal souls to everlasting states of paradisical bliss or torturing hell.
However, if we believe in a progressive evolution and expansion of consciousness, we should also believe in the possibility, and indeed in due time the inevitability, of reaching ever more inclusive Image-concepts of a 'Reality' the infinite potentialities of which must always remain incompletely fathomed by any mind, human or divine. What I have tried to convey is this infinitude of potentialities of existence and of consciousness — consciousness being but an expression of the fact of wholeness. Infinite Potentiality reaches, nevertheless, even beyond the vastest expanse of consciousness, as infinite Spatiality is ever beyond the most extended field of space, and infinite Duration ever beyond the lengthiest cosmic cycle. Similarly ONE is to be conceived as the Principle that inheres in all 'ones,' in all units of existence, in all cyclocosms, in all men and all "gods." It is SELF in all selves, root-power in all existential wholes. If Motion is never ceasing, ONE is within all movements as their fundamental Rhythm.
We cannot avoid, if we are metaphysically inclined, to postulate such ultimates. They should be not only ultimates of existence but ultimates which include the most fundamental of all relationships, that of potentiality-of-existence to actuality-of-existence. If there is an 'absolute,' this relationship is such an absolute, for within it we find implied ONE as the basic Fact of existence, Motion in terms of Rhythm, Duration and Spatiality. This relationship — how could we imagine it more effectively than in terms of all-encompassing and all-transcending HARMONY?
The Planetarization of Consciousness