The straight line that points upwards
We all know the inner image that has dominated human thinking and acting (at least in the so-called first world) since the beginning of modern times. It is a straight line that points unbroken upwards, a “faster-higher-farther”. It means development in all areas of life, and of course also in us humans. This development is expressed above all in the striving for scientific-technical progress and comfort as well as for “more” in all areas of life. There is no room for retreat or modesty in this world view. In it, the general hunger for more collides with the limited resources and with the expansion or demarcation tendencies of our respective neighbours. The conditions on our earth have been showing us for some time that there is a weaving fault in this attitude. However, it seems almost impossible to let go of it or to find another plausible attitude towards oneself and the things that could correct our self-image and thereby develop it further. Probably nobody wants to go back to the Middle Ages. The current paradigm of being human seems to lack an acceptable alternative.
An image of man
Yet the “faster-higher-farther”, from which we can hardly part, is only one aspect of a more comprehensive picture of man. It is a part of the knowledge of man as a microcosm, which is called to recognise and realise his eternal dignity. This image of man is connected with the hermetic teachings which contributed significantly to the Renaissance (and thus to the beginning of the modern age), as a new orientation in art, culture and philosophy. The doctrine of man as a mortal God – and (the inner) God as immortal man – replaced the afterlife orientation of the Middle Ages and challenged man to recognise and realise himself in the here and now. Over the following centuries this impulse permeated all areas of life, but at the same time essential aspects were lost. The total transformation that man undergoes when he realises his divine nature was forgotten. The Corpus Hermeticum speaks of the fact that man must give the matter of his body back to the elements in order to rise anew. It also stresses that it is the soul which, after a process of maturation decides between spirit and matter, between eternity and temporality, and thus initiates self-revolution.
How the image becomes complete
In the course of time, the original knowledge of a possible infinite development within the divine became a mere worldly faster-higher-farther. However, the great force that was connected with the original impulse continues to work, even in non-understanding, in the great supermarket of self-discovery. The idea of the re-creation of man from the divine spirit was the initial spark to a self-understanding of material man as creator and shaper of the world and himself. If man now adds the idea of complete self-revolution, the picture becomes complete. The aspirations for greatness and fullness, which have always been projected into the material until now, can then be directed to their original field. The path of He who conquers others is powerful. He who overcomes himself is insurmountable (Tao Te King, Chap. 33) opens. In this quasi inexhaustible power of self-conquest, the faster-higher-farther finds its direction. And it becomes apparent: The Faster merges with the eternal Now. The Higher becomes the birth of the divine in us. The Farther describes the unity of the spirit souls, all-pervading, working together, and yet self-responsible conscious individuals. But also the experiences made in self-blinding prove to be precious. They become the driving force to discover the right measure and thus to discover one’s own identity in the first place.
In the first half of the twentieth century there were pioneers who powerfully formulated the idea of self-revolution and formed their own movements on this basis. The aim was to bring to the fore what was missing in people’s self-image – and to make it a reality. Among the pioneers are Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) and the Rosicrucians Z.W. and Jan Leene (1892-1938 and 1896-1968, brothers), as well as Hennie Stok-Huijzer (1902-1990). Jan Leene and Hennie Stok-Huijzer published their works under the author names Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharose de Petri.
Jan van Rijckenborgh and Catharose de Petri
The founders of the Golden Rosycross grew up in a Christian environment. Their first approach to a path of transformation was the core idea: “You are the turning point”, which they formulated early on. They sought and found within Christianity a universal wisdom that could lead people to a true rebirth. In doing so, they emphasised a fundamental duality in man, which does not exhaust itself in the formula “mortal body – immortal soul”, but challenges man to find his true, eternal self outside the ego. This is not about the evolution of the ego, not about the consciousness of subtle parts of our being, but about the “divine other”, who can only work in man when the temporal and temporary “self” opens, withdraws, surrenders. This requires an unbiased self-examination of the ego, which creates the inner space for direct inner knowledge.
Whoever follows this path dissolves all illusions of the ego and recognises all suffering that is connected with it. Thus the door to the true self opens. In the course of this inner revolution all bonds and conflicts in the material world dissolve with the temporal self, as a side effect, so to speak. The ego is finally replaced by the spiritual soul, which forms a unity with all other spiritual souls. The Golden Rosycross understands itself above all as a union of people who have recognised the goal within themselves and realise it in personal responsibility and growing soul unity.
Jiddu Krishnamurti, born into a Brahmin family in South India, was discovered by the leading Theosophist C.W. Leadbeater and chosen as a suitable “vehicle” for the returning Buddha Maitreya, the coming “world teacher”. The Theosophical Society educated him, founded the “Order of The Star in The East” for him and sent him to England for university training, hoping that he would one day prove a worthy tool. Apparently, however, the “return” did not take place as expected. Krishnamurti freed himself from all authority and dissolved the Order in 1929. He appealed to all people who were able to understand it to take an inner path in their own responsibility, to free themselves from all existing concepts and authorities and to awaken in the present. All who walked this path would inevitably form a unity. Krishnamurti therefore did not found an organisation. He pointed out the attachment of man to time, especially to his own past – with all the suffering that arises because we are bound to our “self” of yesterday and its wishes and experiences. As long as this is the case, we are not able to let our ego perish in the present and bring a new consciousness (and being!) to birth in the here and now. According to Krishnamurti’s experience, the ego exists only in time, and it is therefore a matter of “letting time end” for oneself. He wrote about his experiences in meditation as an encounter with the “other”, with “otherness”.
(to be continued in part 2)