Site Section Links
KRONOS Vol VI, No. 2
THE GARDEN, THE FALL, AND THE RESTORATION
In Mankind in Amnesia, a manuscript unpublished at the time of his death, Immanuel Velikovsky offered his evaluation of the psychological condition of the human race. In this, his final opus, he built upon the earlier work of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, who had independently come to the conclusion that neurosis in the individual is evidence of the surfacing of a deeply embedded collective condition affecting all of humanity. Freud and Jung differed in their ideas concerning the origin of this collective condition: Freud attributed it to the Oedipus drama of the son killing the father in order to possess the mother, this presumably having been a widespread practice in prehistoric times; Jung, however, maintained that mankind's collective subconscious is populated by primeval archetypes which shape our patterns of thought and behavior. Both Freud and Jung assumed that the content of the collective subconscious is ultimately an inherent aspect of the biological organism: for Freud, the Oedipus drama was the inevitable outcome of universal sexual urges; for Jung, archetypes were the psychological analogue of a wider range of instincts.
Velikovsky, however, considered the irrational aspects of the collective human subconscious as acquired, not inherent. As an historian as well as a psychoanalyst, with an awareness of the global catastrophes which have on several occasions destroyed civilizations and plant and animal species and radically altered climate and topography, Velikovsky held a key to the understanding of man's collective behavior a key which went undiscovered by Freud or Jung. Given the tendency for individuals to repress the memory of traumatic events once they are repressed, there is a recurrent compulsion to re-enact the experience and given the fact that humanity has experienced severe traumas in the historical past, we should expect human beings collectively and individually to exhibit some of the symptoms of the typical amnesia victim.
In this paper we shall explore some implications of Velikovsky's diagnosis, first with regard to religious myth as a remnant not only of the catastrophes, but also of the state of human consciousness prior to the time when "the great fear" began to take hold. Using these myths as a key, we shall examine the ubiquity and insidiousness of the collective amnesia phenomenon in human consciousness today, and explore one perhaps the only way out of the dilemma.
I would emphasize that the thesis I am presenting is not drawn from the contents of Mankind in Amnesia. It is a corollary of the central theme of that book, but whether Dr. Velikovsky would have agreed with my conclusions I do not know.
If we are in fact experiencing a state of collective amnesia, there must have been a time before the amnesia set in, since every disorder is necessarily defined in relation to a state of health. Ancient records of that period of health and order should presumably describe a condition free of the effects of collective amnesia; they would tell of a time when there was no war, institutionalized irrationality and cruelty, or individual and collective self-destructive behavior. Records of such a state the paradise myths do exist. Yet the idea that there may actually have been a "golden age" runs against the grain of man's current ideas of progress and evolution. Since anthropologists and historians have consistently viewed paradise myths as nothing more than folkloristic inventions, if we presume to take the myths seriously we must first consider whether there are anthropological and archaeological grounds for entertaining the possibility that they may contain elements of historical truth.
The idea of progress is a relatively recent one: many ancient authorities, such as Epicurus, Origen, Plutarch, Lucretius, Philo of Alexandria, and Plato believed that their ancestors were superior to themselves. It is now recognized that during some periods this belief had a foundation in fact: the European civilization of 600 years ago, for example, was in many ways more primitive than the Near Eastern, Chinese, Indian, and Meso-American cultures of centuries earlier.
Velikovsky was fascinated by the ingenuity and acumen of the ancients: in an unpublished manuscript titled Shamir*, he cites evidence that radioactive material, hypnosis, and atmospheric electricity were understood and used millennia ago. He respected what ancient peoples conveyed to us about their experiences: if they could build the pyramids, compute the circumference of the Earth and build well-planned cities with running water, must we consider them such unreliable witnesses to natural events in their time that their descriptions must be interpreted as hyperbole, allegory or fantasy?
It is inappropriate here to offer a lengthy catalogue of the physical evidence of advanced human cultures in prehistory. Such evidence has been gathered and presented in detail by a number of researchers(1) and includes great walls and roads now submerged under oceans; copper and iron mines tens of thousands of years old; giant megalithic grids of menhirs and standing stones; other megalithic stones too heavy to move with modern cranes, yet somehow transported far from their quarries (such as the 1000 ton trilithon at Baalbek); imprints of sandal-clad human feet in sandstone conventionally dated in millions of years; and so on. Based on such fragmentary and enigmatic evidence, no definite conclusion can be drawn; yet the anomalies are so numerous and unaccountable that we may feel justified in setting to one side, for now, the conventional theories concerning man's consciousness and culture prior to the preserved historical record.
Perhaps our ancestors of the last few millennia before the present era were not creatures on a smoothly inclining evolutionary path, midway between cave and condominium, but travellers on a hilly road, survivors descended from survivors, heirs of a culture already nearly forgotten, destroyed so completely that only legends and a few artifacts remained. The catastrophe of ca. 1500 B. C. was sufficient to terminate civilizations, decimate populations, eradicate species and alter topography; yet compared with the earlier Deluge this must have been like a minor aftershock following a devastating earthquake. When we examine the geological record of the catastrophic conclusion of the Pleistocene Epoch, we see some indication of the severity of the stresses to which living forms were then subjected.
Prior to the Deluge the level of the oceans may have been as much as three miles lower than today; extinct creatures perhaps some dinosaurs still roamed the Earth; few of the mountains we see in our time yet existed in anything like their present form; the atmosphere may have had a different oxygen content; perhaps our planet was not even a satellite of the same star around which it now revolves. Rather than marvel at the number of casualties of that paroxysm, we should wonder that there were any survivors. Under such circumstances, is it not conceivable that our Cro-Magnon forbearers descended rather than ascended to the Stone Age? If we are willing to consider this interpretation as a possibility, then we are in position to view the paradise myths in a new light.
The most familiar of the paradise myths is contained in the first two chapters of Genesis.
Chapter two of Genesis concludes: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." Thus is described a state of innocence, guilelessness, and purity, from which man fell upon eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Indians of the Brahmanic period preserved the following in the Mahabharata.
Hesiod wrote similarly of the Golden Age of Kronos:
Again, in the early mythology of China we find a similar vein: "It is remarkable," writes James Legge, "that at the commencement of Chinese history, Chinese tradition placed a period of innocence, a season when order and virtue ruled in men's affairs." Speaking of the perfect men of old, Kwang Tze (ca. 400 B. C.) says,
Here, then, is another reason, in addition to the Deluge, for the scarcity of relics from that era.
The traditions of the Hopi Indians tell of an original state no less idyllic:
According to Paul Hamlyn, writing in Egyptian Mythology, "The Egyptians. . shared the view that what they called the 'First Time,' or the age in which the gods lived on earth. . .was a golden age. Forces of destruction may have existed even then, but the principles of justice reigned over the land."(9)
Among the most ancient surviving documents are the cuneiform texts from the Sumerian civilization of the second and third millennia before the present era. In one such text we read:
The Mayas' Popul Vuh stressed the wisdom of the "first men": "They were able to know all, and they examined the four corners, the four points of the arch of the sky and round face of the earth." But later "the eyes of the first men were covered and they could only see what was close".(11)
Each of the paradise myths ends with a fall:
Perhaps if the garden of Eden is interpreted as being both a state of consciousness and a geographical place, certain expressions such as "he drove the man out" and "a flaming sword which turned every way" may indicate some upheaval in the natural world which coincided with a diminution of human lifespan ("lest he live for ever. . . ") and an end to the peace and fulfilment man had previously enjoyed. In the Hindu tradition it is said that
Hesiod describes man's degeneration thus:
In the ancient Taoist scriptures, Kwang Tzu laments that
The Hopi Indians tell how
And today we find that
If we accept the mythical accounts. the fall was not an event affecting only man's environment: the ancients do of course describe great cataclysmic upheavals, but in stories of the garden and the fall the emphasis is on man's character. In the Golden Age is portrayed a state of harmony between the inner nature of man and his surface layer of consciousness, and hence his behavior. Later, it is as though a barrier has arisen between man's outer consciousness and his innermost source of being and identity. In the words of Kwang Tzu, "Decadence. . .continued. . .until the people. . .had no way by which they might return to their true nature."
In Mankind in Amnesia, Velikovsky describes how amnesia need not be total, but may obliterate only certain traumatic memories. To the extent that human beings en masse have forfeited awareness of their true identity, their "true nature," mankind's amnesia is total. Our sense of identity is relative, according to circumstances of birth, skills, roles, and self-image. This is the only sense of identity that is acknowledged to exist yet there is the identity of life beneath all the rest. Our species "makes itself miserable," and routinely practices self destruction (on an individual and collective basis; gradually as well as all at once) because we have buried that core identity with life beneath stifling masks. Our bodies obviously maintain some association with life, but in our conscious awareness we have succeeded in avoiding the moment-to-moment control of inner being in favor of control by externals.
The first external controls were the planets which approached the Earth thousands of years ago, wreaking general destruction. As Velikovsky has shown, most of the gods of the ancients were representations of the planets Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Human sacrifices were brought to the gods in order to appease them. Fear and dread so gripped and distorted human consciousness that all trust in the cycles and pulsations of nature was lost: the dominant experience was one of terror that any moment the gods might again rain devastation upon the Earth. Later the planets themselves ceased to be an obvious threat; "god" became a philosophical concept, a matter of belief or faith. But the sacrifices continued: human lives were offered up to the new gods of political and religious dogma, with fear remaining the principal means of control.
In early religious myth and historical narrative is portrayed the contrast between those who would worship the planets (or their substitutes) and those who carried some remembrance of the inner source of control. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna counsels Arjuna that
In the story of Moses the conflict between allegiance to internal deity and the external planetary deity is discernible. In Exodus 3:13-14 the Lord reveals his name to Moses:
Meanwhile, there was a strong temptation among the Israelites, as among al] people of that time, to worship the planet Venus. Later in the story, Moses descends from Mount Sinai to find his followers worshipping a golden calf, symbol of Venus. The Old Testament continues throughout to develop the theme of the prophets of the Lord versus those who would worship "strange gods".
The experience of union ("yoga") between inner and outer consciousness surfaces again and again, in different times and places. Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha, claimed to offer an experience rather than a belief system or doctrine; his teaching was intended to communicate a direct experience of Reality. Reality, according to the Buddha, is beyond logic, description or classification, because terms only have meaning in relation to their opposites, and Reality has no opposite. One might think that to perceive reality is normal; we make the assumption that we are doing so all the time. Yet the fragmented, irrational world human beings have made is testimony to the fact that seldom does anyone see clearly - we filter our perceptions according to our previously formed opinions, and in the process the uniqueness of the present moment is lost.
In China, at about the same time the Buddha was teaching the way to enlightenment, Lao Tzu was using the word "Tao" to describe the "way of life". "The Tao" is usually translated as simply 'the way": it is the way of creation, the way nature constantly brings forth newness and life without effort or striving by allowing each thing to act according to its nature. The object of Lao Tzu's teaching was the experience of being the Tao in expression in each moment, in every action.
In addition to this pure, original state of consciousness which their founders experienced as an everyday fact and offered freely to others, the major religions have had one other thing in common: the general inability of the followers to experience for themselves or to maintain that state of awareness; in each case living word was crystallized into dogma, doctrine and prejudice the very factors which the saint or prophet decried: "Woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites."
Once human consciousness began to be dominated by an artificial identity controlled by externals, the tendency was to seek meaning in possessions, in belonging to groups, and in roles and occupations. Man became a puppet on a string, jerked this way and that by whatever external factor happened to be pulling money, sex, or prestige –- which, through their presence or absence, induced reactions of greed, guilt, shame, and fear.
Often the words of "those who knew" were misinterpreted as meaning that the whole outside world should be ignored, obliterated from consciousness; and psychological techniques were invented to produce such a state. Those who followed this extreme path understood part of the message that in every organism, solar system, galaxy, atom or social unit there is a point of focus at the center whence control must emanate, or disintegration occurs. They rightly sensed that, in the case of the individual, this point of focus is the invisible core of being. Yet the function of the outer consciousness is not to peer within to try to observe the invisible, but to express the compulsion of life into the outer world. Perception of and expression into the external world are as vital as the internal factor of being; either is meaningless without the other, and balance is the key.
The "internal" and "external" factors we are considering do not correspond with the heredity/environment dichotomy of behavioral psychologists. Heredity and environment together are the negative pole to that force or quality which guides heredity and shapes environment from the inside out, as the invisible forcefield of a magnet arranges iron particles around itself. The quality of heroism or genius which causes some men and women to rise far above what could be expected on the basis of environment or heredity is none other than the compulsion of life in unhindered expression. Where one appears who offers such expression, institutions and followers gradually move into position like iron particles reacting to the stimulus of a magnetic field.
Nature regulates her creatures easily and simply, each form of life acting according to its unique nature, responding to pulsations and impulses arising from within, some recognizable forms of which are called "instinct". Once man had lost consciousness of his inner source of control, through which he was in harmony with the rest of nature, he found it necessary to externalize what was before internal and automatic. One of these externalizations was law. When individual human beings began to act irrationally, it became necessary to impose arbitrary standards of behavior, and the concepts of punishment and vengeance naturally put in an appearance in reaction to the violence man experienced during the upheavals in his world .
Religion and government, charged with the creation and administration of laws, began to be differentiated from the seamless whole of human experience, and irrationality was simultaneously outlawed and institutionalized. Before, there had been no distinction between religion, government, science, or any other aspect of human affairs, but as mankind came more under the control of externals and alienated from life itself, institutions, governments and religions proliferated and fragmented. Man's attitude became one of struggle to wrestle a hostile environment into submission to his will, to make it safe and secure. This attitude seemed justified in the face of dire global catastrophes; in their absence, the hostility is all man's. Man versus nature is man versus himself.
Marshall McLuhan has shown how our technology and communications media are externalizations or extensions – of factors already present in the human mind and body: the wheel is the extension of the foot, clothing and shelter are extensions of the skin, printing of the eye, and electricity of the nervous circuitry. It is likely that some forms of technology, communications media and institutions that we consider the very foundations of civilization existed thousands of years ago in an "internalized" form, and it may be presumptuous to assume that our externalized imitations are more effective than the original process or faculty, which meanwhile has atrophied from disuse.
All creatures express according to their nature, giving form to what is formless. It is the source of control that differentiates expression in this sense from what I am calling "externalizing" (for want of a better term): inner control yields expressions which are whole, harmonious, and organic. When the minds of men ceased to be oriented in life and began to react with fear to the external environment, their expressions began to take on an artificiality, a defensive and imitative quality.
The tendency to be controlled by externals is so deeply rooted in human nature that today it is difficult to conceive of the alternative. What is thought of as anarchy is simply externally polarized human consciousness without the safety factor of law. Under present circumstances laws are obviously quite necessary. "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," was Jesus' wise counsel, for to attempt to change the polarity of consciousness by manipulating, fighting, or doing away with externals is to continue to be controlled from without. It has to be an "inside job". The first point at which the expression of any state of consciousness merges with the outer world is attitude: attitudes such as blame, fear, and greed reveal and maintain external control, whereas attitudes such as appreciation, patience, thankfulness, assurance, radiance, wisdom, and love reveal and release the undistorted expression of life. The consistent expression of life-positive attitudes is our only "handle" on our own state of consciousness. This is the original basis for all ethics, morals, and values though once again the process of externalization has substituted rules and formulae for what can be experienced only as a state of being.
The tone of Mankind in Amnesia is intentionally somber. Velikovsky chose to face a fact that most of us would prefer to ignore: that today man's world hovers on the brink of annihilation, not as a result of another rearrangement of the solar system, but of the actions of man himself. By far the most nightmarish threat is the ever-present "balance of terror" in which each of the world's superpowers tries to be as strong as the next, which is already many times stronger than it needs to be. And as the membership of the "nuclear club" those nations possessing nuclear weapons grows, the chances for keeping the terror in balance diminish.
Velikovsky writes of the thermonuclear arms race and of the population explosion; he might have mentioned impending economic collapse, ecological disintegration, the energy shortage, and many other contributory conditions, any one of which is cause for alarm. Nearly every factor of societal function, when graphed, reveals a trend coming to a crisis point within the next thirty years; when all these trends are correlated, it is difficult to avoid a prognosis of sheer disaster.
The source of this situation is nothing new; the problem is merely more obvious now because there are more human beings with more sophisticated weapons. Given the world we live in and the creature we presently know as man, the result is inevitable sooner or later.
Mankind's pathological pattern of behavior is so monotonously predictable that a description of tomorrow's man-made cataclysm can be found in the eschatological writings of nearly every culture. The Book of Revelation, the Koran, and others can be considered as memories of earlier catastrophes projected into the future or as self-fulfilling prophecies which have subconsciously programmed mankind for self-destruction; either way, Armageddon looms.
Yet many of the prophecies which describe the ultimate destruction by fire also tell of a new age, a millennium of peace, a restoration of the true state of mall.
Today there are many religious sects, psychics, and social prognosticators predicting an end to the old order and the emergence of something totally new, and in the very near future. Yet, as filtered through the structures of human consciousness, these prophecies are reminiscent of the blind man's attempts to describe the elephant: "born again" Christians await the Second Coming while psychics predict a new age in which everyone will be psychic; Iranians envision a reformed world ruled by medieval Moslem clergymen, while science fiction buffs look toward a visit of superior beings piloting flying saucers, arriving just in time to set man's messy affairs in order. Something inherently indescribable is welling up from the depths of the human subconscious, waiting to burst forth and human beings try to grasp it in the net of their familiar concepts.
Neo-Darwinian evolutionists see the new age as a condition toward which we are evolving, while fundamentalists say that God will plunk it down from heaven without warning. Yet the truth need not conform with either preconception: obviously the species has undergone fundamental changes since prehistoric times, and thus it is impossible to return to the physical and spiritual world of our distant ancestors. Yet, not all of the changes which have taken place in man are evolutionary; some came about as reactions to catastrophes and are classifiable as pathological degeneration rather than developmental evolution. Thus, if (as we might hope) humankind is cured of its amnesia, this happy result will be attributable neither to evolution nor arbitrary deity. It will be the result of man's reawakening. The benefactor and beneficiary will be life itself, breaking through the dam of crystallized structures in man's consciousness to express itself freely and clearly once again through human form.
References1. Among them, Charles Berlitz, Mysteries from Forgotten Worlds (N. Y., 1972); Robert Charroux, 100,000 Years of Man's Forgotten History (N. Y., 1971); Francis Hitching, Earth Magic (N. Y., 1971); Peter Kolosimo, Timeless Earth (N. Y., 1974); Brad Steiger, Mysteries of Time and Space (N. Y., 1976); Andrew Tomas, We Are Not the First (N.Y., 1971); David Zink,The Ancient Stones Speak (N.Y., 1979) Many books on the subject of Atlantis discuss similar evidence.
2. Donald A. MacKenzie, Indian Myth and Legend, London: Gresham (nd), pp. 107-8.
3. Hesiod, Works and Days, lines 108-120.
4. Quoted in Donald A. MacKenzie, Myths of China and Japan, London: Gresham (nd), p. 216. 5.Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi (N. Y., 1963), p. 8.
6. Ibid., p. 9. 51
7. Ibid., p. 11.
8. Ibid., p. 13.
9 Paul Hamlyn, Egyptian Mythology, based on the text tr. by Delano Ames from Mythologie Generale (London, 1965), p. 28.
10. Translation by S. N. Kramer, Quoted in John O'Neill, You and the Universe (N. Y., 1946), p. 41. [For a slightly different translation and different interpretation of the document, see "Cosmology and Psychology" in KRONOS I: 1, p. 41. - LMG ]
11. Quoted in Tomas, We Are Not the First, p. 162.
12. MacKenzie, Indian Myth and Legend, p. 108.
13. Hesiod , Works and Days, lines 126-179.
14. MacKenzie Myths of China and Japan, p. 276. 53
15. Waters, Book of the Hopi, pp. 15-16.
16. Roger Wescott, The Divine Animal, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969, p. 199.
17. Bhagavad Gita, translated by S. Radhakrishnan, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1946, V:20,21, p. 182.
18. Ibid., 11:51, p. 121.