THEOSOPHY, Vol. 86, No. 4, February, 1998
(Pages 114-115; Size: 5K)


[Article number (22) in this Department]


ONE conspicuous symptom of change in our era is the almost total decline of the necessity for social ritual. In previous times human relations were largely dictated by various rules of conduct. These social amenities served to preserve social distance, while defining the appropriate attitude for our daily encounters with others. Today, however, after nearly two centuries of emphasizing the equality of humankind, these once elaborate forms of salutation have dissolved into a simple "hello" or "hi."

Today we encounter a vital plea for a more natural or organic way of life, and a hunger for the truly human in our relationships. We long to experience the flow of existence, rather than the limited fragments furnished by convention. The quest for the essential elements of what it means to be simply human has become a common psychological and intellectual pursuit. This is quite contrary to the previous pursuit of status symbols and shrouded communications sought by a society whose purpose was personal acquisition.

These developments obviously illustrate some of the signs of a deep change in the psychic and manasic principles of the race. The effect of change necessarily brings with it, however, an unevenness in expression. Periods of deep transition are marked with bewildering symptoms of insecurity and feelings of dissolving identity, until the new cycle makes itself felt.

In relation to the Theosophical Movement, the positive aspect of this transition can be seen in the noticeable decline in the reliance upon authority. There is also a striking increase in the immediate and intuitive grasp of philosophical ideas. It is as though the soul has at last found a way of making its needs felt -- caring less for the conventional ideas of truth than for an individually sensed reality -- for an enormous burden of verbiage, once believed necessary, has fallen away. Removing this vestige of armor allows us to initiate the task of learning to communicate as souls, rather than imaginary icons of acceptable social behavior.

This sort of change may be thought of as a transition from organized to organic human relations. In doing so, we can retain the harvest cycles past, while by-passing the formalities and niceties which belonged to a less perceptive age. The strength to sustain an order and association of this sort will have to come from direct and inward perception, since it was due to this lack of perception that organizations, policies and documents were invented in the first place.

Hence, we can observe within our established social practices the passage of old ideas of value and their alternation into new significance. Even the etymology of words and their transformations of meaning over the centuries exhibit the continual re-embodiment of the vitality of thought.

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