In the oral tradition of the Hopi they do not see themselves as one nation among other Indian nations, but rather as the father nation. According to their tradition they originally came into this land from an underworld which was being destroyed by the acts of evil hearted people. On arriving here each clan was given an opportunity to choose among several types of corn, after which each clan was given a name. It was the leader of the Hopi that waited to be last and choose the worst looking ear of corn, and the name Hopi - meaning people of peace - was given because of their humility.
They were then instructed to travel all over this new land (the Americas) leaving behind rock writings and ruins, because there would come a time when the various tribes and nations "... would forget that they were once all one."* (This may in fact be the explanation for the mystery of the "mound builders".)
The Hopi tradition next speaks of two brothers, whose father, a certain chief, had just died. The two brothers were to carry out the instructions. The "younger brother" was to travel all over the new land, while the "elder brother" was sent east "...to the rising sun."* In the time of crisis (namely today) the "elder brother" would come to the aid of the younger.
It is the Hopi who were lead by the "younger brother", first to travel as far north, south, east and west as possible in the new land before being shown by the Creator just where to finally settle. It was during these travels of the "younger brother" that all the "rock writings and ruins" were left behind. Even so, not all who were involved in this migration, were willing to continue it to the end. Many clans and families stopped and stayed when they found conditions to be favorable. These then (in the sense of Hopi oral history) were the ancestors of many of the various tribes in the Americas; remember, the instructions were to leave behind "rock writings and ruins" because it would be forgotten that they were once all one. Only those Hopi, who were willing to follow the Creator's instructions to the end, stayed together until finally arriving in what we now call America's arid southwest.
Eventually then would come the time of crisis, the "Day of Purification", and the "younger brother" would be in desperate need of help. Meanwhile the "elder brother" was to travel to the east, and then to wait and listen for his brother's call for help.
Let us imagine for the moment that this picture places the Hopi in the Americas and the "elder brother" in Europe. Has something arisen in Europe then, connected with science, related to a "Red Symbol" and the "Sun"? Such is in fact the case. Moreover, this impulse is emphatically spiritual in nature, consistent with the view that the Prophecy concerns the higher purposes - the spiritual purposes of world events.
But before we go into the details of this 'movement' some general historical facts should be recalled.
For example, that Kepler, author of the three planet laws of motion, was also an astrologer is not remembered. His warning, that science not "throw out the baby with the bathwater", not abandon the accumulated wisdom of the prior age as it traveled toward its own ascendancy, has been ignored.
A very few struggled to hold on to what remained valid, at least in their eyes, but these voices and their ideas tend not to be included in the general education of Western mankind. It was not until my late thirties, for example, that I came to know the genius of Goethe as a scientist, of Coleridge as a metaphysician, or of Emerson's "idea of mind". To say nothing of Ruskin or Howard or what Faraday really meant when he described the fundamental laws of electricity. Fortunately the 'true white brother' is rescuing this lost and bypassed wisdom for us. It will help later, especially, to appreciate that the ideas of science which we inherit today as a given understanding of the world have not arrived with the agreement of all thinkers. Nor is the battle over the 'truth' of these matters, as Barfield has shown us, finished.
Let us look at some first instances of this 'counter' movement to the descending materialism of the scientific age.
Now it is important to appreciate that Newton and Goethe did two very different things. Newton sent a narrow beam of light through a prism and on to a white surface. Goethe looked through the prism directly with his eye. What Goethe saw was that the white wall was still white and that only where there were shadows, or edges of objects, did the rainbow effect occur. Newton interpreted his experiment as meaning light was made up of colors (which we are taught today) and Goethe learned from his experiments that color arises from the interaction of two invisible qualities, light and darkness. These are very different conclusions whose significance for the science of physics is beyond the scope of this work. Needless to say, Newton's view prevailed. Was Goethe then wrong or was something else involved? We will return to these questions.
It was a tragedy for us who follow after him, that his addiction to opium made his prose works often partial and incomplete. Yet, we are fortunate that at least one modern thinker, (Owen Barfield, mentioned previously), has seen fit to save this magnificent intellectual edifice for posterity. In Barfield's What Coleridge Thought (Wesleyan University Press, 1971), can be found a careful reconstruction of the ideas of a man who was as objective about his inner life as he was about the world around him.
Whereas Goethe never 'thought about thinking', Coleridge gave a great deal of effort to the questions of human psychology: to the relationships between the 'act' of thinking and the thoughts which follow that act; to the fact of what he called "outness" - that "...in every act of conscious perception, we at once identify our being with that of the world without us, and yet place ourselves in contra-distinction to that world"; and, last but hardly least, Coleridge made ver special discriminations between reason, imagination, understanding, fancy and sense (experience).
We will over the course of the text be able to go more deeply into these questions; and, while not resolving them, at least make their meaning for the Prophecy clearer.
Or in his essay The Oversoul: "Man can come to unite himself with the great soul, the universal mind. He becomes receptive to the universal mind. He opens himself to the world, which changes and passes away. Then he comes to live in eternal thoughts and acts with energies which are immortal."
Is Emerson merely thinking ideal thoughts, or is the nature of his experience different, so different as to justify that we reconsider our whole conception of the 'romantics' and 'transcendentalists'?
Recall for a moment the intricate argument we followed earlier from Owen Barfield's Speaker's Meaning. Here is Emerson in his book Nature (Ch.iv) writing of the process of making analogies in a way similar (yet beautifully different) to Barfield's ideas of 'translucence' and 'figurative' uses of language (one hundred years before Barfield):
"...that there is nothing lucky or capricious in these analogies, but that they are constant, and pervade nature. These are not the dreams of a few poets, here and there, but man is an analogist, and studies relations in all objects. He is placed in the centre of beings and the ray of relation passes from every other being to him. And neither can man be understood without these objects, nor these objects without man. All facts of natural history taken by themselves have no value, but are barren like a single sex. But marry it to human history, and it is full of life...
"Because of this radical correspondence between visible things and human thoughts , savages, who have only what is necessary, converse in figures. As we go back in history, language becomes more picturesque, until its infancy, when it is all poetry; or all spiritual facts are represented by natural symbols."
Goethe did not approach science this way. He instinctively recognized that mind was irrevocably bound up with what it experienced and proceeded in a disciplined way to examine phenomena in this light. This is why he looked through the prism rather then at the colors on the white surface as did Newton. Goethe's question was always: what is the full nature of my experience. Newton's effort, and most science which followed, was to reduce, if not eliminate, personal (and presumably subjective) experience.
My own way of looking at this is to ask, whether I as part of creation, have anything within me which is not also a part. I have thoughts. Why should I assume that they do not belong, are not as much 'nature' as anything else? Why should I feel that my apparent subjectivity is inimical to the truth of the world? Yet, it is just such a presupposition which underlies the doubt which the present practice of natural science casts upon my inner life.
It is this idea then which is the keystone of the arch of materialism. Remove this stone and the anti-spiritual view, and the course of history connected with it, falls. Appreciate this and you will understand the nature of the spiritual battle taking place in our time. A split has arisen between man and the world, an abyss. In the confusion the nature of man and world and their true relationship is lost.
To the ancient Hopi the nature of their given experience was different from ours. Examine their language carefully and you will realize, as in almost all materially primitive cultures (nonetheless ?spiritually mature?) there was no separation of self and world. It is only in the modern phase of the evolution of consciousness (term to be explained more carefully as we proceed), that man begins to experience the world as out there. The Taoist idea of being at one with nature, so frequently repeated on the television program "Kung Fu", comes out of the oriental tradition which came into being at a time when the separation we experience today did not exist.
This is the real crisis for the Hopi, and for all the world: the experience of "otherness". We have arrived at a stage of evolution, of the evolution of consciousness, such that we have lost the formerly experienced oneness with nature. We are now alienated not only from the world, but increasingly from each other as well. We not only no longer recognize nature has having an inside, but we believe ourselves to be bound up within our own heads.
Let us return to Owen Barfield for a deeper consideration of this problem. To Barfield the changes, occuring over time - sometimes hundreds of years, in what we mean when we speak and write, reveal that not only has humanity undergone a physical evolution, but the nature of our consciousness evolves as well. Moreover, it is this inner evolution which is most active in the near present. The physical evolution seems largely finished, but our consciousness continues to transform.
In Barfield's Saving the Appearances: a Study in Idolatry (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pub. date ukn.), the observation is made that the beginning of the age of science, say about the l4th and l5th century, marks a special era of transition. Up to that time humanity had a kind of consciousness which felt itself within Nature, within the Cosmos, even somewhat within our fellow human beings (we approached this problem from another quarter when discussing Barfield's Speaker's Meaning). Barfield characterizes this consciousness as "original participation", and notes that the scholastics, such as Thomas Aquinas, were quite aware of this quality in their relationship to the world. Barfield writes: "In the work of Thomas Aquinas, in particular, the word participate or participation occurs almost on every page, and a whole book could be written - indeed one has been written - on the uses he makes of it."
Barfield goes on to say later in this book: "It has been sought to show...that the evolution of nature is correlative to the evolution of consciousness; and,..that the evolution of consciousness hitherto can best be understood as a more or less continuous progress from a vague but immediate awareness of the 'meaning' of phenomena towards an increasing preoccupation with the phenomena themselves...experiencing them...as objects in their own right, existing independently of human consciousness."
Another writer describing the same change of consciousness says: "A characteristic of scientific inquiry, distinguishing it from man's earlier ways of solving the riddles of the world, is that it admits as instruments of knowledge exclusively those activities of the human soul over which we have full control because they take place in the full light of consciousness. This also explains why there has been no science, in the true sense of the word, prior to the beginning of the era commonly called 'modern' - that is, before the fifteenth century. For the consciousness on which man's scientific striving is based is itself an outcome of human evolution." (E. Lehrs, Man or Matter, Faber & Farber, 1951).
This type of consciousness, which emerges after the fifteenth century (more or less, and certainly not all at once) can be called the "onlooker separation" (Lehrs, ibid). Mankind, previously having been 'inside' the world, now experiences it as outside, as something "over there". Original participation gives over to the onlooker separation.
This problem of 'inside' and 'outside' which we approach here is difficult. In another context (History, Guilt and Habit, Wesleyan University Press, 1981) Barfield says: "...to study language historically, taking into account not only its analytical function but also its poetic substance, is a good way of studying the evolution of consciousness. In doing so we are studying that evolution from_within, and therefore study consciousness itself;..".
We moderns start from a position of already having "onlooker consciousness". We experience the sense world in a certain way, and tend to presume that human beings have always experienced the world in that way. In fact, in ordinary life, our sense impressions often dominate our consciousness, while our inner life is quite dim by comparison (just think of what ?happens at a rock'n roll concert?). At the least we should make the effort now to imagine another kind of consciousness, a more ancient consciousness in which the outer world is dim, and lacks the character of objects. And in which the inner world is more full, but we ourselves are less awake, less conscious of having an experience. The outer world (the phenomena) are seen in the light of the inner, defined as it were by the inner which perceives not objects but meaning. It is what the sense impressions mean that is crucial to this kind of consciousness?, and their significance as objects in themselves is unimportant.
Even historians of art are aware of this change which occurs in the fifteenth century, noticing that at about this time the artist first seems to come awake to perspective, which previously did not play a role in drawing and painting. This is an extraordinary fact to become aware of, to watch how the artist all of a sudden has to grapple with the complicated problem of perspective, something we would think - given our modern state of consciousness - ought to be obvious, and ought to have been obvious for centuries. But just look at the paintings and drawings prior to the l4th and l5th century.
Looking back we will find that: "Egyptian drawing does not use perspective yet. It remains entirely with the two-dimensional surface. Figures are drawn larger or smaller not because they are supposed to appear closer or father away, but because their relative size indicates whether they are more or less important in an inner sense. Gods are large while human beings are small...the pictorial art of Egypt has no concept of the ...world of space yet." (Art and Human Consciousness, Gottfried Richter, [need publ. and date]).
"Medieval painting had been...concerned solely with the two dimensions...These pictures have no foreground or background. In fact, there is no space in them at all. All the figures in them stand in spacelessness...(then)...this begins to change. The picture surface is transformed into a picture space, and all its figures...step out of their spacelessness into space. This does not happen all at once. It takes a long time for this space to absorb the surface and take on real depth. But it begins everywhere at the same time." (Richter, ibid.)
In times past the individual saw himself as a member of a tribe or nation, for example as a Hopi, just as he experienced himself within nature. The writer Michael Dorris has pointed to one native America language which has no singular pronouns. We can't say in it "I hit him", only "We hit us" (c.f.The Broken Cord, [need publ. and date]). Such a language peculiarity arises during the time of original participation, when the individuality, the "I" consciousness is not yet present in humanity. Today the individual sees himself as an individual, and Mankind finds itself experiencing the world as if cut off from it. It is outside us over there, and we are in here as a self.
Now we can begin to understand the 'gap' between the dawning of science and the romantic resistance (as I have characterized it). Human consciousness underwent a general change, and this made possible the approach of science to the world of objects. The transformation from scholasticism to empiricism is not the appearance of a better way of investigating the world (as has been assumed), but rather gives evidence of a fundamental change in the psychology of the investigator himself. Those personalities who resisted the materialism of science, who found different 'thoughts', as it were, did so because they did not accept the 'onlooker separation', but instead built bridges across it. In such as Goethe, Coleridge and Emerson (for example), the self (the soul) was not satisfied until the experience of "outness" was overcome, and the world of perception and the world of thought - the outer and the inner - were reunited.
In this 'counter-culture' at the beginning of the age of 'onlooker' science, we have the first inklings of the "true white brother", and I would like therefore to give a bit of definition to this image out of the Hopi Prophecy. The Prophecy recognized that a white race was to come, and that this coming heralded a time of crisis. The Hopi lands would be occupied, and the way of life would begin its process of destruction - the young would turn against the elders. All of this has come to pass.
At the same time the Prophecy contemplated another group, a group within the white race, the 'true' white brother. We might ask: To what would this group be true? That is as well clear. The Hopi ancestors experienced the world in such a way that they were passive recipients of a 'worldword', a unity of outer and inner realities. The white race that invaded the Americas no longer had such a relation to the world; the evolution of consciousness, the change from participation to the onlooker separation had erased this given 'worldword' relationship. World and word were now experienced separately. Yet, this experience was untrue, was an illusion into which humanity fell as a natural consequence of the change of consciousness (we will enter more deeply into the meaning of this change later).
Even so, among the invading white race, the true unity of the world and the word was still sought for, and in many instances found. What the Hopi once understood passively and as direct experience, even though today it only remains a tradition, and in their language - in the meaning of many of their words, this experience was now sought consciously by those individuals who were not content with the unnatural division of the primal unity. This impulse of the 'true' white brother then first appears in the 'counter-culture' of romanticism and transcendentalism, which reunites what our given consciousness divides. Where the Hopi ancestors had a passive experience of the 'worldword', the 'true' white brother had to actively reconnect them. The onlooker separation was something that had to be overcome.
Fortunately for humanity this division and its potential healing was not to be left merely to the chance genius of a few individuals. The time of the romantics and the transcendentalists, which seemingly has been passed by as science rushed to its ascendancy, was followed by the birth and life of a champion, an individual whose whole being exemplified this image of the Hopi Prophecy - the Mystery of the True White Brother.