An excerpt from
by Eugene Halliday.
In the ancient world, for certain men of heroic temperament, Anticipatory Death was the centre of their initiation into the most sacred mysteries. In this initiatory rite the candidate for the status of hero had to submit himself to burial in a tomb for three days, there to be in total darkness, in black isolation from all but his own self.
If he emerged with mind intact from this ordeal he was accepted into the company of Heros. He had conquered the last enemy, Death. Now none could constrain him to act against his will. He had lain with Death in the cold tomb, and had triumphed. He was worthy of resurrection. He had overcome his Karma and thereby had become a true self-knower. Henceforth he was a friend absolutely trustworthy. To his friends his word was his eternal bond. The little band of Brothers of the Anticipatory Death, in the self-willed co-solidarity with each other were unbreakable. No power on earth or in heaven could sever their bond, for they had at-oned themselves, each with himself, with the others, and with their God. Oh, to belong to such a Brotherhood! But their way is hard, and few in history have chosen membership of their mysterious Order.
In their initiatory rite of Anticipatory Death, these few of the Brotherhood, in the confines of their self-entered tomb, overcame their Karma, saw through the cause of their prior deeds, saw the cause/effect nature of all worlds, and saw the way out to be the way through all experience.
He who has had no experience has no knowledge, either of the world or of himself. But in order to gain the full benefits of experience, one must give oneself fully into it, and yet, mysteriously, one must keep of oneself sufficient consciousness of oneself as an observer to enable oneself to cognise the nature of the experience to which one subjects oneself.
Yes, of course, but this is not so easy as to make self-effort unnecessary. All we have to do is to let ourselves enter into an experience, expose ourselves fully to it, strip ourselves of all defences against it, dare to present ourselves naked into the experience, and then, in the middle of the experience, keep ourselves wholly alert to all aspects of the experience. Then we shall gain the total value of the experience.
This is all we have to do to enrich illimitably ourselves. Simple to say, not simple to do. For as Nietzsche said, from the depths of his own experience, “Woe to thou who art an inheritor”. Our protoplasmic body is the still surviving protoplasm of our ancestors, of our parents ovum and sperm, of their parents and their parents, and so to infinity.
Living protoplasm has a continuous line back to our first ancestors, back to the very source-power of all ancestors. And living protoplasm is a recording material of the highest sensitivity. It records not only the forms of events, but also whatever feelings or emotional charges were operative at the time of the events. Thus when a protoplasmic record is stimulated into re-play, we undergo not only the formal memory of an event, but also the original feelings and emotions experienced in the event. Thus we re-experience the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears of our ancestors, and do so as if they were our own, for whatever we experience within the limits of our own skin, we tend to believe, because it is within our own skin, that it is ours, our very own. Ordinarily when we experience inside ourselves a feeling of pleasure or pain, we do not tend to say, “This is an ancestral feeling-record replay”, but rather, “I feel pleasure or pain”, or, “I feel happy, or miserable”.
The whole problem depends upon the meaning of the words “I”, “Me’ “mine”, “my own”, and similar expressions. Who is this “I” who says, “I feel happy”, “I feel sad”? What does it mean to say, “mine”. “my own”?
None has ever seen this mysterious “I”. It cannot show itself as an object of consciousness. It can orientate itself in certain contexts by the use of this letter “I” towards certain aspects of reality. It can pretend to identify itself with some objective form, to let this serve as a reference point for the field of awareness which in principle is infinite. But this is only a convention imposed on the organism of a child in the days when it was a defenceless open sensorium.
What do we mean by an “open sensorium”? We mean a field of sentient-power not yet conditioned into a state of identification with some externally imposed label.
When a baby is first born into this world of ours, it does not at once proceed to respond in a socially acceptable manner to whatever we say to it. We may smile at the baby to demonstrate to it or to ourselves what nice kind persons we are; but we do not necessarily receive back from it the same would-be winning smile. Perhaps rather, at times determined by some inner state of the baby’s organism, we may receive to our smile, a frown, or perhaps a look of bewilderment, or even of abject terror; or less discomforting for us, a gurgle and a few bubbles. And such responses will hardly suffice to fulfil our definition of “socially acceptable” behaviour.
Thus somehow we have to impose upon this innocent open sensorium a sense of socially acceptable identity. We have to do this, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of the child itself. For if it does not receive a centre of reference from us, by which it will be led to respond in socially acceptable ways, it will not be able to relate its actions effectively to other members of human society. In effect, the child with no socially acceptable reference point and behaviour pattern will be sub-human.
The method of creating a socially acceptable reference point in a child, has, so far, been by imposition of a name. By naming a child and repeating this name often enough the child begins to respond to the name as if to a reference centre within its field of awareness.
The name given to the child is useful to the child and to the society members which have imposed this name upon it. By means of its name the child can be led to certain contents of its field of awareness. It can be taught to eat, to play, to sleep, to awaken, and later to work within the social situation in which it will have a part to play.
But the name is not only useful. It is also dangerous; for it is conferred within a social situation with historical roots. Within a Jewish society a child will be given a Jewish name; within a Christian society a name acceptable to Christians; with an Islamic society a name acceptable to Muslims, and so on with other types of society.
A name is not a mere sound devoid of meaning. It is a sound-complex with a history. Often a name commemorates the name of some great man, or of some man or woman held within a certain society to be great. No doubt, in the hey-day of Nazism in Germany some baby boys were called “Adolf” in admiration of the Fuhrer, and some little girls were proud to be called “Eva” after the Fuhrer’s girl-friend. In England some little boys rejoiced in the name “Winston”; in America some identified with the then American President, as evident in the name “Franklin D. Roosevelt Jones”. That the names we have had imposed upon us have a history means that they have associations, not only formal but also emotively charged. How many Christians rejoice in the name “Nero” or “Judas”? It is hard to escape the historical associations of a name.
A name, then, may be as dangerous as it may be socially useful. In an extreme instance of identification,a name may so condition a person that his whole life may be conducted by that name’s historical associations. His life may follow a course quite contrary to that which he would have followed if he had another name, of quite different associations. This gives the rationale of conferring a new name on a man who enters a religious order. By giving a new name, a man is given a new reference centre for his field of awareness, which may break the tyranny of his old name’s associations.
Thus if the old name has killed by its associations a man’s inborn natural talents, a new name may be the beginning of his resurrection to a new life in which his so far unused innate talents may come to expression, fruition and profit.
A name’s association may bring a man to Death. A new name, of new, more vital associations, may bring him to Resurrection. This is why, in the second chapter of the book of Revelation we may read: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”.
A name is a destiny indicator. A new name confers a new destiny. Because names embody history, they hold not only formal, but also emotional associations which may under certain circumstances become causes of an orientation of life. Thus a name can legitimately be viewed as an encapsulation zone of Karma.
Names have been conferred on things basically in the belief that to name a thing is to be at least potentially able to control that thing. An authoritative edict that all John Smiths will report at a certain assembly centre tends to result in a number of John Smiths turning up at that centre. We are to remember the rule that says that we tend to go under the law that governs that with which we identify. Thus if a man identifies himself with a name conferred upon him by his parents, and officially recognised, he will tend to respond to demands made upon him if these are associated with his name. Names, then, may determine responses, especially in those unaware of the association of the name.
Names are thus intimately related to Karma. We are taught the names used for things within a society. We are taught to view certain things as “good” and others as “bad”. Thus, by association, we talk of “good” and “bad” words. Some words are considered so “bad” that they are disallowed in polite society. Use of such forbidden words may produce “bad” Karma, while use of thoroughly acceptable “good” words will tend to produce “good” Karma.
The Word of God is power eternal, vibrant with its own life sentience. The words of men are uttered by permission of God’s Great Word. When the power of God closed in upon itself, humming within the sphere of its own intent, Cosmos was born, the great OM-sounding. When the power of God ran around within this magic sphere, Time was born and began to run its course.
The first Word of God contained by implication all other words that ever may be spoken, and every word spoken echoes within the Great First Word to maintain its original connection with the divine power. These word-connections cannot be broken by any finite being. Man cannot disconnect them, and this is the basis of the necessity inherent in all logic. Thus when we use a word we invoke not only the powers particularly associated with that word, but also those powers associated with all other words implied in that word. Bad logic or irrational thought is that which tries to avoid the necessary implications of the words used in a starting proposition, But the use of bad logic to gain an end does not eliminate the necessary connections of the words used in the basic premises.
[ end of excerpt ]