Most of us who are familiar with Dane Rudhyar know him primarily for his pioneering and seminal efforts in the reformulation of modern astrology. Today the results of his labors pervade virtually the entire field both directly and indirectly and in ways that are obvious and not so obvious. Yet astrology was not his first calling, nor the only one.
During his very long life creative activity expressed itself in several fields of endeavor, forming a complex and interwoven tapestry. In his initial arena of productive expression, the field of musical composition, he became known through and associated with the vanguard of the "new modern music". A concert of his music in New York on April 4, 1917, was the first dissonant polytonal music ever heard in the U.S.A. Along with his musical interests, he also started writing poetry that did not conform to established literary traditions or fit into aesthetically appreciable forms. Two decades later in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he began to paint and soon found himself associated with the Transcendental Movement in Art. And of course in another three decades, his astrological works found something of a connection with the human potential and "New Age" movements. Throughout the weave of the years and decades a central thread can be found to be pervasive in all of Rudhyar's endeavors. His birth centenary presents an excellent opportunity for exploring this thread-theme and answering the title-question: "what was Dane Rudhyar alive for?"
Before beginning the exploration proper, an examination of the roots and subsequent development of the "central thread" seems appropriate. The guiding force of Rudhyar's life was rooted in two important realizations that occurred when he was 16. The first, which had two parts, was that Time was cyclic and that the Law of Cycles controlled all civilizations as well as all existence. The second was that Western civilization was approaching the symbolical "autumn phase" of its period of existence.
These realizations were primarily spontaneous and intuitive, although influenced by an exposure to the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche - the latter a very influential philosopher at the turn of the 20th century, who encouraged among many other things the "revaluation of all values". At any rate, the two realizations triggered within Rudhyar an urge to dissociate himself from Europe and to seek a "New World", where he might sow himself as a seed, carrying within his being the legacy of whatever was viable and constructive of the European past. Thus it was that the ideal of the "seed man" arose in his consciousness, forming the "central theme" that dominated and pervaded his life and works thereafter.
In 1916, at the age of 21, Rudhyar consecrated his ideal and choice of seedhood by moving from his native France to the U.S.A., identifying himself with "a seed blown across the ocean....to sow itself in the fertile, virgin soil of a "New World"." There, from 1917 to 1928, Rudhyar made a long and in depth study of many fields: various Asian and occult philosophies, Oriental music, astrology, etc. The Theosophy of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine was especially instrumental for much of his subsequent development. In the early 1930's he explored, among other areas, depth psychology - particularly the Analytical Psychology of Carl Jung, the new Einsteinian physics and a book that proved quite catalytic: Holism and Evolution by Jan Smuts. These studies were not intended to accumulate a mass of data and/or information. Rather, Rudhyar consciously undertook to develop in himself a "higher" form of mental operation, one that was capable of dealing with fundamental, universal, spiritual and metaphysical principles and cyclic processes. He was later to call this higher mental activity "clairthinking": the direct experience of ideas.
As he integrated his studies with the ideal of seedhood, Rudhyar began to feel that his destiny was to work out a creative and synthetic reformulation of ancient and traditional metaphysical and occult principles. The aim of this effort was to be to foster clairthinking in others, thus helping to evolve a "mind of wholeness", both individually and collectively. This destiny, then, became the essence and germ of his chosen ideal of seedhood.
While Rudhyar was able to incorporate aspects of the reformulation effort into his musical, astrological, artistic, poetic and literary endeavors over the years, a full and comprehensive elucidation proved elusive. Neither publisher nor audience could be found. Finally, in 1970, the publication of The Planetarization Of Consciousness (Planetarization) began a series of books dedicated to the exposition of a "philosophy of operative wholeness". These works came to include: We Can Begin Again Together, Occult Preparations For A New Age, Culture, Crisis And Creativity, Beyond Individualism, Rhythm Of Wholeness (Rhythm) and The Fullness Of Human Experience. Planetarization and Rhythm make up the foundation, while the others serve as pillars framing different aspects and angles of the structure.
Although it is fair and accurate to speak of a philosophy of operative wholeness, Rudhyar's writing seems more like art and music than any sort of critical and/or analytical theorizing. His words seem to radiate with iridescent hues, illuminating chiaroscuros of multilevel depths; they pulsate with tone and accent, flow in movements of meaning. This was surely not the stuff of academia, nor was it intended to be. No, it was an "autumnal release" of "seed-ideas": new images and symbols of order, relatedness, fulfillment and global plenitude, pregnant with the germs of futurity. To present or even outline the complete worldview is definitely beyond the context of this short essay. Instead, I will offer a highly condensed and essentialized view of the message that seems to speak through the philosophy.
A good place to begin is with human and planetary evolution. Planetary evolution up until recently, geologically speaking, has featured primarily the evolution of life. However with the development of what we call "humanity" (and there may have been other "humanities"), an additional factor, human evolution, has come to the fore. Human evolution is constituted by the "civilization" process. It has as its purpose the development in human beings of the capacity to function at a life-transcending level of existence in an organized field of consciousness and activity, based in and dependent upon a superphysical type of matter. Essentially this involves a shift in human consciousness and identity from its present locus at the biopsychic level of Earth's nature, to one that could be called "spiritual-mental". There are many aspects of this process and its completion will require an indefinite length of time - far exceeding the few millennia of recorded history.
The civilization process works through the operation of great societies or "culture-wholes". A culture-whole can be defined as an organized - even 'organismic' - field of collective human activity, integrated by a feeling of community and a commonness of philosophical-religious-psychological traditions and basic purpose. Originally rooted in a particular geographical location with a specific climate, fauna and flora, a culture-whole is capable of expanding to include many disparate areas, as the European culture-whole has done during the last 500 years and the Islamic in the centuries preceding that.
In the complete 'life' of a culture-whole four periods can usually be detected, at least theoretically. The first is dominated by physical and biological activity: the establishment of a land base and the means of production, the development of a 'new stock' of people, etc. It is a time of life-oriented will, strength and dynamism.
The second period is marked by stabilization and consolidation. Institutions, laws, dogmas, etc. are formalized to cultivate, preserve and refine the values acquired during the preceding period. They then serve as molds for a specific way of collective behavior, thinking and feeling, providing a mechanism for the culture-whole to perpetuate itself.
Interchange is the key to the third stage. Trade begins to grow and dominate. There is interpersonal and intercultural exchange at all levels, leading not only to an expansion of production, but also of knowledge, desires and possibilities. This expansion gradually stretches the old molds, which eventually lose their resilience. They finally break down once the central values and symbols lose first their sacred character and finally any remaining shred of credibility.
The fourth phase begins as the old, hallowed and sanctioned ways become increasingly distorted and vulgarized. All intellectual, emotional, sexual, behavioral and social restraints gradually deteriorate, accompanied by increasing disorder and confusion. Anything and everything becomes possible.
In response to this turmoil a polarization slowly evolves. The large majority of people come to be - in various grades - not only deculturalized, but also depersonalized: statistical units, a "vote". Their lives grow more and more haunted, possessed and conditioned by an insatiable desire for the "alcohol of money". In the face of what appears to be unlimited freedom of choice, life becomes increasingly meaningless to them.
On the other hand, a few persons come to a different understanding of freedom. Realizing that it can serve as the foundation for fundamental change, they use the new-found freedom to transfer their allegiance from a disintegrating culture-whole to a greater reality. This greater reality can be described in many different ways, but principally it is the still-to-be-actualized potentiality of the human species or kingdom as a whole. In its all-inclusiveness this human potentiality could be called Anthropos.
It is the purpose of human evolution to actualize Anthropos throughout a long series of culture-wholes, each of which bequeaths a few seeds that will eventually germinate, structure and shape a new culture-whole. To transfer one's allegiance to Anthropos and human evolution, is to choose the way of the seed. To follow the compulsion of an unlimited freedom in a 'deculturalized' life, is to embody the way of the leaf. No matter how beautiful and colorful they may be, all leaves eventually disintegrate into humus, the decayed particles of which will be used as rudimentary elements for and by new life. The way of the seed or of the leaf? - this is the pivotal choice for all persons living during the autumnal period of a culture-whole.
The way of the seed is the avataric way. It is a long and arduous path of preparing oneself, so that Anthropos and human evolution may operate through ("trans") the beingness of one's person; thus it is transpersonal. In essence, one has to establish a conscious relationship with and then become that aspect of Anthropos that is one's place and function within the even greater whole of the Earth-being.
As a part or subwhole of the Earth-being, Anthropos performs a specific and vital role. That role is to become the conscious mind of the planet, to make conscious - and extract meaning from - all the activities within the field of the Earth. It is to increase the level of consciousness of all planetary existents, human and otherwise. Eventually it will be to transubstantiate the very matter of the globe itself. Therefore as subwholes of Anthropos, all humans have a potentially conscious function to perform within the Earth-being.
This function is represented by a spiritual quarternary (SQT) associated with each person. The SQT consists of: a Spiritual Quality (SQL), representing the essence and substance of divine potentiality; an individualizing principle, the integrative and rhythmic power necessary to both exteriorize the SQL and serve as the core "self-hood" of each human being; an archetypal mind, which creates a "guiding field" that gives form to the SQL and also structure to a particular person; and the universal power of divine Compassion, the foundation and what for of all modes of existence. The transpersonal way is the conscious, determined and consecrated endeavor to fulfill the function represented by this SQT during the historical epoch within which one lives.
The present epoch is marked not only by the slow deterioration of the European or Euro-American culture-whole, but also the concurrent and even farther along disintegration of all others still extant. The East Asian, South Asian, Islamic, various African and Native American and other culture-wholes are all in advanced though different stages of decay. Out of this vast humus-in-the-making, Rudhyar suggests that a new culture-whole needs to arise, one that should be planetary in scope. Obviously such a new global society will not appear spontaneously, but it could be presaged and sown by "seed-groups". The latter would be composed of individualized persons consecrated to seedhood and the transformation of human - and beyond that, of planetary - relationships, for "all changes come through relationships". These crucibles of mutation, attuned to the actualization of Anthropos, might then form the germs or building blocks of the new culture-whole. In any case, while he did not predict in detail what is to be - who could? - Rudhyar did outline some basic principles that seem relevant for the coming era, only a few of which can be spoken of here.
The new culture-whole or society would not be homogenous. Instead it would include all persons, peoples and locally-variant cultures as being distinct and meaningful parts of the "Earth-community". Based on love and plenitude rather than on the principles of fear and scarcity that are so prevalent today, it would replace politics with management, a management of power and resources for the purposes of the planet-as-a-whole "because the Earth 'likes it this way'". It would be a society where the two rights - the right of a community to urge optimum productivity for the welfare of all its members and the right of the person to become an individual, centered in its own spiritual identity - have become synthesized, harmonized and kept in operation. Such a society would be sustained by fully conscious and inwardly free but whole individuals, who in turn would be inspired by the society to effectually fulfill whatever each of their places and functions call for, as a part of this new global community. Finally, it would nurture and inspire the fulfillment of Anthropos within the Earth-being, and further, that of the Earth-being itself, within the even greater whole of the heliocosm (the solar system as-a-whole).
This constant reference to and remembrance of "greater wholes" pervades the philosophy of operative wholeness. All existents, of whatever size, come into existence as part of some greater whole. At the same time, each existent is a greater to many lesser wholes. Hence each being is both a greater whole and a subwhole, thus forming a hierarchy of wholes, a holarchy. However this holarchy is one of containment, not of command. No greater whole makes an exact, rigid or absolute determination of what shall be for any particular subwhole. While the greater whole has a more inclusive level of consciousness and activity than - and provides a field of being for - its many subwholes, there is a two-way vertical relationship.
In various degrees a greater whole structures and conditions the being of its sub-wholes, yet the latter in their turn affect the workings of the former. This holarchical arrangement gives to each being a place and function within some greater whole and therefore potentially, a meaning! But meaning requires a certain quality of consciousness, an at least human level of consciousness. While all wholes have a kind of consciousness that is appropriate to their own level of existence, it is only at the level of humanity that 'reflective' consciousness is reached. This is the consciousness that is capable of the development of meaning.
Nevertheless not all meaning and endeavor serves to fulfill the purpose of Anthropos. That purpose is realized incrementally, as each person attunes his or her meaning and activity to the level of the respectively associated SQT. For if and when a person has become individualized, then the SQT should be felt and aspired to as the most immediate and essential "greater whole". No one 'possesses' or 'has' a SQT; on the contrary, it is the person who belongs to the latter. To say it in a more direct manner: each of us is responsible to a SQT, sometimes also loosely and imprecisely called: the "higher self". The SQT represents the compassionate answer to the cyclic call for a more inclusive experience of wholeness and meaningful existence. To attune our consciousness to this answer, to live it in our daily life, this is the way of the seed, of the avatar, the path of joyous and conscious participation and fulfillment in Anthropos and the Earth-being - it is the transpersonal way.
This brings us to the end of an all-too-brief message-oriented abstract of the philosophy of operative wholeness. Due to space limitations many things simply could not be discussed, most importantly the inclusive and foundational 'cycle of being and movement of wholeness'. But this is only to hint at the wealth of meaning, understanding and guidance that can be harvested from a study of Rudhyar's writings.
One final theme concerns the relationship of Rudhyar's astrological opus to the philosophy of operative wholeness. If the philosophy provides the structure and the what for, then the astrology potentially points to the way! Yet it must be clearly distinguished that astrology is not the way, it can only suggest how we might orient ourselves, our consciousness and activity, so that we might find our way, our "guiding field". To practice astrology in this manner is not a simple undertaking. Most fundamentally, the initial and most important client of an astrologer is him- or herself. Through a sincere and consecrated self-practice an astrologer eventually might come to be of a deeper and more useful service to others.
It is not even absolutely necessary to work with charts in order to make use of Rudhyar's astrological works. The basic principles and ideas are the matters of the most importance. While all of the astrological books are helpful in terms of understanding these cardinal principles, perhaps An Astrological Triptych and the "12 Qualities Required for the Spiritual Life and Their Zodiacal Correspondences"- section of Astrological Insights Into The Spiritual Life are the most useful for effectuating the transpersonal way in one's daily life.
In producing both a full, global and future-oriented philosophy and a way of practice, Rudhyar was in rare company. Most philosophers do not produce a 'way' and most teaching yogis and psychologist-types do not produce philosophies. As far as I know the only other person who presented such a combination during the 20th century was the great Indian seer-philosopher, yogi and poet Sri Aurobindo.
In any event, the ideal empowering the life that was Rudhyar, was that of the "seed-man". This life was consecrated to the release of seed-ideas that might in turn fecundate the formation of other potential seed-men and seed-women. For if in the course of autumn there are no seeds formed and released, how can there be any new growth during a spring that seems so far away as to be imaginary?
To ponder the 'time of the season' or of the cycle may seem like fantasizing to some - or even to most. Yet in its central core, its heart of hearts, the seed knows! With unfathomable depths of serenity and faith it quietly prepares, while the leaves celebrate the resplendent and colorful autumn, oblivious to the ensuing winter. In due time, the storms of autumn and the chill blasts of winter will come, bringing forth their respective 'seasonal conditions'. But through it all, the seed awaits, patiently, for in its bosom it carries the vision, the promise, the sacred trust, of futurity.
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