Man as a spiritual being chose to use his intellect to render matter into its smallest condition and master it. The price we had to pay was the loss of vision of the subtler worlds of being and spirit.
Acceptance speech – George Trevelyan
THE NEW RENAISSANCE
The more I look at the age which we are in now the more I feel that mankind has reached the threshold of a new step in consciousness, that, when we get beyond this time of turmoil and change, a new Renaissance will be upon us. It is with this concept that we are concerned in the Wrekin Trust, which is an adult education movement concerned with the spiritual nature of man. In the sixties when I began to experiment with weekend courses on the great spiritual themes, like the expansion of consciousness or “Death: the great adventure”, I found that we packed the house. There was an immense response, and I realised that there was an aspect of adult education which was simply not being met: a quest for meaning in life, a quest for something beyond the materialistic, separatist way of looking at life. After I retired in 1971 it was clear that this was the work to be done. I founded an educational charity, calling it after our local mountain, the Wrekin, in order to put on courses on the new worldview emerging. I was joined by my co-director, Malcolm Lazarus in 1974 and for 11 years we have put on courses and conferences, over 450 in different parts of Britain.
I want to talk tonight about change of consciousness. I submit to you that what happens in history can best be understood if we realise that the events are really symptoms of evolving consciousness. Everything is in evolution, and the most important feature is the evolution of consciousness. The great turning points in history can really be seen as symptoms thereof. What is happening in our time is the experience of such a shift in human consciousness, a paradigm shift, a shift in world view, particularly in the West. The greatest of our scientists are now arriving at views which are almost identical to the world view of the ancient mystery traditions. This is an extraordinary phenomenon. The ancient wisdom, called sometimes the Hermetic wisdom, gave us a picture of life where the universe was Mind, a Divine source from which poured out an ocean of thought, of intelligence, of living ideas. The Universe is seen not as a mechanism but an affair of consciousness, as a great creative source from which the forms of Nature have been derived.
The next point in the Hermetic wisdom, the wisdom of the ancient mystery initiation temples, was the Law of Correspondence: as above, so below, as within, so without, as in the macrocosm, so in the microcosm. The universe works as a great oneness in which the whole is reflected in every part. The wonderful invention of the hologram and holographic photography illustrate this. With the use of laser beams we can photograph an object three-dimensionally. We then make an extraordinary discovery that when a holographic plate is dropped and smashed every fragment of it contains the whole photograph three-dimensionally: each one has the whole! Two well-known scientists, Professor David Bohm and Karl Pribram, who have spoken at our “Mystics and Scientists” conferences, suggest that the whole world is a hologram and every human mind is a fragment of this whole, and the whole is reflected in the fragment, in all its harmony and oneness. But the Greeks knew this too. Above the mystery temple of Eleusis was carved “Man know thy self and thou shalt know the universe”.
That remark can mean nothing to a rational materialistic intellect. It does not make sense. The rational intellect has reached only the point of experiencing separation. That is the mote of our age. You experience yourself as a separate entity among a mass of other separate entities and things. In no sense can you say, as the Orient says: “That art thou you are me.” You aren’t me! You are all sitting there and I am sitting here, and this table is sitting there, and a tree is growing out there. We are all separate. That is where the intellect founded on the five senses, on the experience of the senses, has got us to. The result of that development of consciousness, of reaching this point of intellectual self-consciousness has enabled us to analyse Nature, to dissect Nature, to control Nature, to conquer Nature, (which is a terrible phrase) and to build the remarkable technological culture that is now ours.
But we have lost a tremendous truth which the Egyptians knew, the Greeks knew, which was taught in the mystery schools, where the students had the great initiation experience called the temple sleep.
The selected candidate was laid out in a sacrophagus and his self, his ego, his “I”, and his soul were withdrawn by the initiating priest, as was most of what is called the etheric body, the structure of vital forces which holds the particles of the body together. This was all withdrawn and you lay as one dead for three and a half days. In that time your real Self, the “I” and your soul body, your emotional body travelled in the spiritual world and experienced directly that the “I” in you is an imperishable droplet or spark of the Divine creative source that cannot die even if the body is smashed or drowned or burned. After three and a half days you were called back by the initiating priest who knew how to do the trick. You came alive again, sat up and climbed out of the coffin. But you remembered the spiritual world through which you had been travelling. You knew that in you is a deathless imperishable droplet of the Divine source and you were filled with courage and joy to face the ordeals of life.
That knowledge was given directly to those ready for initiation. To the others it was taught by mythology, by myths and legends and dramas which told the great truths about the human soul and its development and which appealed directly to the subconsciousness. In the evolution of consciousness we lost this vision, this Hermetic wisdom. We lost the key to the vision that we are beings of spirit, soul and body. There is an actual watershed moment when this happened. At the Church Council of Constantinople in 869 they decreed that it was now heresy for Christians to speak of man as spirit, soul and body. From now on he was to be considered as nothing but a body with a soul having some spiritual qualities. That decision was a symptom of the changing consciousness: no longer could they grasp the true spiritual nature of the “I” in man, of the Being in man. But as soon as you say that man is nothing but a body with a soul, it opens the door to thinking that the soul only begins at conception. You begin to doubt that it has any eternal qualities. You loose the sense that we are imperishable in our inner core or kernel, an imperishable droplet of Divinity.
The door was opened to the still greater depths of materialistic thinking. Dialectical materialism says that we are nothing but matter, only body. But this body is seen as having certain subtle qualities of a rather soul-like nature. So in Russia they can study scientifically the most remarkable effects in the human aura and the subtle vibrations of the body without admitting to the existence of either soul or spirit. But now great scientists (physicists and brain specialists) are discovering that the universe is Mind, that everything is thought! They are rediscovering what the ancient wisdom and the mystical traditions have always known: that the universe is a great Oneness, that; life works as a stupendous whole in an immense harmony, a unity though not a uniformity. Scientists are now saying that the earth is in a true sense a living creature with its own breathing and blood stream, its own intelligence, glands and sensitivity, and that the human being is not separate from nature but is that point where Nature has become self-conscious.
We are discovering what is called the holistic world view. This wonderful word has come into common use in the last five years. It implies the conviction that the whole is holy. There is no separation, everything is Divine. The great ocean of life and thought permeates everything. We are in it now in this room. We are 150 different personalities and bodies but on a deeper level we are one mind, and that mind is a pulse of the eternal mind. The mystery traditions taught that mind is the thinking of the great source, that from mind form has been produced and that the convolutions of the human brain reflect the convolutions of cosmic thought. This globe within the head reflects the whole cosmos. The mystery traditions said it arid now great scientists are using precisely the same language. In our conferences leading scientists and mystics have been brought together to show the world that they are now talking the same language. Science and mysticism come together again.
There is nothing wrong with our intellectual materialism. Our materialistic view is a phase which we in the West have to go through. We had to focus intelligence and intellect into the world of matter and master matter. I do not believe it was a blunder or mistake. Man as a spiritual being chose to use his intellect to render matter into its smallest condition and master it. The price we had to pay was the loss of vision of the subtler worlds of being and spirit. The spiritual world simply disappeared. We could see nothing in nature other than the outward form. The subtler inner being of nature became invisible to us. But in that process we have achieved human freedom by being detached from the Divine world. The question now is if we can learn to creatively handle that freedom and work with the ocean of creative life. My title was The New Renaissance. What was the first Renaissance? It is not enough to say that man discovered himself and the world. Seen on the deeper level, in the descent of the being of man (the thing that can say “I” to itself) there came a moment when that descent was virtually complete. This was at the beginning of the 15th century. There was a psychical psychological, spiritual process in which the “I” of man came down and identified with the five senses. Our ancestors said: “Look at the beauty of my body of and of nature! Let us start experimenting and exploring! Let us paint the body!” The result was a burst of creativity and of egoism. One of the notable things about the Renaissance is the inflation of the ego and the delight in colour, wealth and royalty. Dr Faustus, delighting in power through occult knowledge. The delight of power through royalty. In this process of discovering the world and experiencing it, man lost himself as a spiritual being, lost his knowledge of his true nature. For centuries he plunged into the exploration of matter and did wonderful things but lost the purpose of life upon earth.
It is interesting that at the beginning of the Renaissance we have this outburst of religious painting, as if the spiritual worlds were making an affirmation about the real nature of man. Man is a Divine being and the body, as the Greeks knew, is the temple into which that divinity can descend. We have gone through the epoch of descent and we are in the process of coming up again. Our great poet prophet William Blake described it as the passage from innocence through experience to imagination. Out of Eden’s garden we are drawn down through the fall, deeper and deeper to identification with the body and the five senses. Now we have the possibility to rise again, not back to Eden but on to what is called the New Jerusalem. Or we can choose to go on downwards into a new beastiality lower than the animals. These are the horrors of our time: the great intellect with a powerful will and no heart, the torturers and tyrants of our age who are rejecting the possibility of the re-ascent.
We have analysed with our intellect the depths of matter and discovered it is all energy. We have discovered that life is a great oneness, in perpetual movement. We have also discovered that we can release the energy within the nuclear centre and taken upon ourself this god-like responsibility: We have to take full responsibility for our discoveries. We are now at the threshold. The first Renaissance moved down across a threshold into the world of the senses. We are now beginning to move towards self-consciousness into Divine mind. We can move our intellect into the universal intellect. They tell us we are using only 5% of our brain cells. What will happen when we use 20%, 40%, 60% of our cells? There is no limit to cosmic man as he extends his consciousness. Furthermore he is opening himself once more to the working of the ocean of living archetypal ideas. We have to grasp the notion of a higher intelligence on a higher frequency rate from which the forms of Nature have been deposited and formed. The world of can living ideas/reflect in human thinking. We are opening once more to blend with the cosmic ocean of intelligence and allow those ideas to come alight in our own creative thought. If the energy released in the 15th century through the psychological change of man stepping down into the five senses produced that astonishing burst of creativity we call the Renaissance, then what is going to happen when we do the reverse process and move across that frontier and open up ourselves to working co-operatively with the world of creative ideas? There may start a Renaissance beyond our wildest dreams.
There is a form of thinking which is far beyond our intellectual analysing. It is the faculty the mystics, the initiates throughout the ages have developed cosmic consciousness. These are human beings who have demonstrated something which psychologists simply cannot explain. It is so full of hope and excitement because the creativity of the great mystic exploring of this world of being opens possibilities which we can only dimly see. We must realise the holistic picture, that we are Divine and imperishable and come down to earth as the training ground to learn evolution. This picture is so tremendous that it must express itself in artistic form since it is difficult to put into intellectual form. It is the food for poetry, painting, music, sculpture, anything that can express symbolically the supreme truth that we are discovering in our time: that man is the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm and that human mind is a pulse of the eternal mind.
This planet has been polluted and we risk destroying the web of life. But this planet is a part of the whole living structure of the solar system which is not a dead mechanism but an ocean of life. In the middle is this planet which is dying because its steward has mistreated it so monstrously. The indications are that energies are being flooded into our planet to bring about a change in vibration, a lift, a cleansing in these coming years. What we are seeing now in outer manifestations of fear, gloom, disaster, violence may prove only to be the symptoms of thought structures based on separation breaking down. The force that is flooding the planet now is a force of harmony. It is an energy you can call love, a force to harmonise life on every plane and bring the reality which we intellectually grasp into actuality, a force which is going to reject those elements practising separation, violence, hate, destructiveness.
It is perfectly possible that in the next years we shall destroy life upon the planet, through our own folly and ignorance. If the materialistic way were the only truth nothing is going to stop us. Somebody is going to press that button. But it is not the only picture. The New Renaissance may be upon us, washing away much that is old but filling the human soul with light and love and the realisation that you may move through within yourself – hence the importance of all meditation methods.
William Blake, the great prophet of the New Age, said that his task was to open the immortal eyes of man inwards into the realms of thought, into eternity. This is the New Renaissance, an adventure in inner space exploration. Just as our rockets go to the moon and the planets, so we may move inwards and expand into the widths of the inner cosmos. It is an adventure of such excitement and I congratulate all the young here who have incarnated at this time to carry through these stupendous changes in our consciousness and society.
The Wrekin Trust,
Janice Dolley (director),