The Enlightenment of Harold Waldwin Percival
Some time ago — years ago in fact — I was made a present of a book by Harold Waldwin Percival entitled Thinking and Destiny: Being the Science of Man. I was quite pleased with the gift because as I thumbed through some of its 1,000 pages and examined his sacred geometries illustrated in the appendices, I realised that here was another fourfold thinker and I eagerly looked forward to reading through his book.
I never did, except in fits and starts. Yesterday, however, I felt a compelling need to draw it out of its limbo as I realised that the very title, Thinking and Destiny, is a reference to the karmic law — the law of action and reaction as it arises in and through thinking as destiny (or fate) accordingly. And as I am still wrestling with what Jean Gebser may have meant by his reference to “the law of the earth” in his own book The Ever-Present Origin, it struck me that Percival’s book might take a promising new approach.
Harold Waldwin Percival (1868 – 1953) experienced his enlightenment in New York in 1893. As he describes it in the Foreword to Thinking and Destiny,
“I had crossed 14th Street at 4th Avenue, in New York City. Cars and people were hurrying by. While stepping up to the northeast curbstone, Light, greater than that of myriads of suns opened in the center of my head. In that instant or point, eternities were apprehended. There was no time. Distance and dimensions were not in evidence. Nature was composed of units. I was conscious of the units of nature and of units as Intelligences. Within and beyond, so to say, there were greater and lesser lights; the greater pervading the lesser Lights, which revealed the different kinds of units. The Lights were not of nature, they were Lights as Intelligences, Conscious Lights. Compared with brightness or lightness of those Lights, the surrounding sunlight was a dense fog. And in and through all Lights and units and objects I was conscious of the Presence of Consciousness. I was conscious of Consciousness as the Ultimate and Absolute Reality, and conscious of the relation of things. I experienced no thrills, emotions, or ecstacy. Words utterly fail to describe or explain CONSCIOUSNESS. It would be futile to attempt description of the sublime grandeur and power and order and relation in poise of what I was then conscious. Twice during the next fourteen years, for a long time on each occasion, I was conscious of Consciousness. But during that time I was conscious of no more than I had been conscious of in that first moment…. Consciousness is present in every unit. Therefore the presence of consciousness makes every unit conscious as the function it performs in the degree in which it is conscious.”
Percival declines to use the name “God” in his writing, but it’s pretty clear that his emphasis on CONSCIOUSNESS somewhat transforms the word into a name and an act of naming itself. It also corresponds to what we find described in Carlos Castaneda’s writings as “the sea of awareness” or “infinity”. Another way of interpreting Percival’s description of his experience is that Percival also saw “energy as it flows in the universe” in Castaneda’s terms, only Percival calls this energy “Light”. This “Light” is conscious light that permeates and animates everything in its own degree of consciousness. The “units” of which Percival speaks are undoubtedly the same “consciousness units” as intelligences that we find described by Seth in some of Jane Roberts’ books. These “units” might also be construed to be the individuated nodes or jewels of Indra’s Net, yet which is one Consciousness in process of unfolding like the Buddha’s Lotus Flower. The “jewel in the Lotus” is this omnipresence of Consciousness as the indivisible and indestructible reality.
The important passage here is “in and through all Lights and units and objects I was conscious of the Presence of Consciousness”. That passage emphasises what I wrote earlier in The Dark Age Blog, that your true individuality is inseparable from what is sometimes called “God’s indivisibility”. Anything indivisible is indestructible, by definition. This is why Percival’s experience of the Presence of Consciousness — the One or Jewel — in all things — the Many or the Lotus’ petals — is accompanied by the absence of all sense or perception of time and space, or distance, because duality and dualistic thinking is superceded. Percival uses the phrase “Realm of Permanence” for this omnipresent Consciousness, which is clearly both the Christian “Kingdom of Heaven” and Buddhist “nirvana” likewise.
It may (or may not) be of interest that Percival’s book was composed between 1912 and 1932, and that Jean Gebser first begins to compose The Ever-Present Origin in 1932. Gebser’s “ever-present origin” is, in fact, the same timeless and spaceless “Presence of Consciousness” of which Percival writes, but which others have also called “Eternal Now”. This might be difficult for some to appreciate, but it may help if one contemplates the infinite fractal dimension between 0 and 1 to gain an approximate feel for this possibility of the fathomlessness of Now or the Present. Some fractal geometricians seem, in fact, quite fond of quoting William Blake’s “eternity in the hour” to describe the unfolding non-linear fractal dimension.
I will be sharing with you my thoughts and discoveries in Thinking and Destiny as I work through the book, now that I’ve laid the foundations with this short excerpt, particularly for what it can teach us about the fourfold and the karmic law. But most especially for what it can teach us about how we construct the reality we know (as “destiny”) through our often unconscious mental processes, and how changes in the latter have, as consequence, changes in the former through mirroring. This is a rather pressing and urgent requirement in our time if we are to outrun the present dangers that, unaddressed, threaten the survival of all life on Earth. Since it is, in Gebser’s terms, the “deficient rationality” of the now decaying mental-rational structure of consciousness that has gotten us into our present troubles, it is necessary to overcome that deficient functioning of a decaying consciousness structure through an essential restructuration or transformation. The disintegration of society and nature is the fateful reflection of the disintegration of the mental-rational consciousness structure itself, which we call presently “post-modernity”.
That is the significance of Percival’s title — the karmic law expressed in terms of Thinking and Destiny as the Consequential. The consciousness that generated our problems cannot be the same consciousness that resolves those problems. And no “paradigm shift” is valid that does not address the issue of the relationship between truly conscious thinking and life’s common destiny in the Planetary Era.