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Plato’s Vision for the Philosophic Empire (6 of 6)
Part 6: The Philosophic Empire and the World Nation
38. The Quest for Good Governance
Plato, born during the 4th century BC in Athens, lived in a time of empire, war, conquest, slavery, and mass suffering. (For more on this, see Part 2 of this series on Plato.)
While he never directly got involved in politics, the great philosopher was not naive to the political and economic issues of his day. In his teachings, he frequently discusses political subjects, offering his philosophical perspective on them.
Manly Hall summarizes Plato’s relationship to the geopolitical environment of his time: “During his lifetime, Plato remained entirely aloof from politics. But he could not fail to consider the political corruption that weighed heavily upon society even in his own time. He sensed that education alone could bring an end to the social ills of the race. … He knew only too well that inadequacy of viewpoint led to those shortsighted policies which corrupt the state and destroy nations.”
The main political issues that dominated the Greek states during Plato’s lifetime involved those of money, debt, oligarchy, and war.
The new economic possibilities of the time favored the formation of finance-based oligarchies, which took the place of the older pattern of monarchies ruling by divine birthright.
Unlike the previous monarchies that they replaced, the oligarchs that emerged during this period did not necessarily see themselves as the wise custodians of society; instead of making decisions for the good of the collective, their priority was on advancing their own power and position over that of the other social castes.
Coinciding with these political changes came other shifts: notably, the shift of civilization into a materialistic and secular orientation, with the focus of human behavior being driven predominately by a desire to accumulate and control material resources.
As Plato and other thoughtful philosophic observers of the time were well aware, these troubling trends in human psychology - notably that of “wealth addiction” - were the primary cause for inspiring the mass atrocities that were taking place during the period in which he lived.
For example, economic historian Michael Hudson summarizes the view that Plato offers in his famous work The Republic, where he gives the opinion that “if you let the wealthiest landowners and creditors become the government, they’re going to become wealth-addicted and turn the government into a vehicle to help them exploit the rest of society.”
In the view of the ancient philosophers, successful societies sought always to maintain balance between the various castes of society. This "requires public power to check and reverse the excesses of personal wealth seeking, especially debt secured by (the aristocracy through usury). Balanced societies need the power to reverse the tendency of debts to grow faster than the ability to be paid. That tendency runs like a red thread through Greek and Roman history.”
This is the basic sociopolitical context that informs the political thinking of Plato and his Greek contemporaries. Sadly, 2500 years later, we’re still entangled in similar issues, and therefore their thinking on these matters still applies to us today.
As with our current civilization, his society faced a similar crisis of governance and failure of vision and leadership among the ruling
elite. Clearly, these challenges are not unique to a particular time, place, or culture; rather, they seem to plague mankind over and over again, continually frustrating our intentions to build a stable and lasting world order.
It was to meet and overcome the perpetual crisis of bad governance that Plato fashioned his concept of the Philosophic Empire. And it is to this subject that we will now finally turn our attention to as we conclude this multi-part series on Plato.
39. Evolving Forms of Government
Over the course of this chapter on Plato and the philosophy of government, we have tracked a long-term motion where an ancient pattern of monarchy gradually yielded to a more contemporary pattern of oligarchy.
Monarchy originates in the idea of a “divine right of kings” who rule “by right of blood” and “by right of those old, endearing traditions which have come from the tribe and clan.” As implied in these quotes from Manly Hall, this pattern originates out of the oldest social, political, and religious traditions of mankind.
To the extent that these early monarchs integrated constructively with the priesthood and their Mystery Schools and were able to rule their kingdoms as an enlightened “philosopher-kings”, then the ancient civilizations who followed this model thrived. While this situation seems to have taken place in various forms all over the world in very ancient times, history also tracks this model of governance declining into evil and self-destructive patterns.
Manly Hall elaborates: “The older states of the world were mostly monarchies. If the monarch were good, his people flourished and he was the father of his people; but if he were bad, he became a despot and monarchy by corruption fell into despotism, which worked a great evil upon humankind.”
From the failures of monarchy eventually came rulership by oligarchy. Hall again elaborates:
“The monarch, falling upon evil times and failing to serve his people, lost their confidence, lost their obedience, and forfeited their veneration and respect. In order to sustain himself he turned to those who were his lords and nobles and bound them to him, commanding them to serve and protect him, and making certain concessions in order to hold their allegiance, thus sharing his powers with them. Out of this circumstance, oligarchy came into existence.”
In time, the oligarchy takes control over the state and overthrows the monarchy. Now in power, this coalition of interests commandeers society toward servicing its own interests and addictions. As Hall explains, “gradually this oligarchy passed through changes of one kind or another. Aristocracy decayed and changed from a rulership of superior intellects to a rulership of superior means, and so sustained itself by wealth, by drawing armies to its support, and by gaining possession of lands. It also began to oppress the people who were no longer subject to a single despot, but now to an entire class of despots.”
In an attempt to regain social stability, societies who have fallen under the imperial control of oligarchies have generally pursued one of two options: either take the route the Romans took revert things back to a monarchial pattern, or take the path that the Greeks took, which is to implement democratic institutions as a means of installing “checks and balances” on the power of the ruling elite.
Manly Hall summarizes the path the Greeks took toward implementing democratic reforms: “under the oppression of aristocratic classes the condition of the common people became increasingly unbearable, and in their extremity they rose against the oppressing class and brought into being the third order of government: democracy.”
Strictly speaking, what results is not a pure democracy but a “republic”, where eligible members of the populace (”the electorate”) elects representatives who govern on their behalf. This model, originally pioneered in Greece, is what we still have today, with the United States being a republican democracy rather than a “pure democracy”.
As history shows (and as the modern world is still struggling to grapple with), democratic societies can fall into their own patterns of evil:
Hall explains that “freedom inclines the man toward an individual existence, toward individual ambitions and aspirations, toward solitary purposes, and leads him away from those community interests which are necessary for the survival of a state.” Consequently, “democracy tends toward an extreme individualism in which each man lives for himself alone in order to accomplish his own purposes, to satisfy his own ambitions, to justify his own aspirations, and to profit himself without regard for the rest. And out of this state comes chaos.”
As Hall demonstrates with this quote, like the monarchial and oligarchical patterns which came before it, democracy too can fail for lack of vision and wisdom. This time, failure is due to not only to the self-centered behavior of the ruling elite but also of the populace as a whole, who now participate in their own undoing.
Economic historian Michael Hudson, surveying the thinking of the Greek philosophers on the the cyclical rise and fall of social orders, writes how "Plato and Aristotle described a grand pattern of history. In their minds, this pattern was eternally recurrent.”
“Looking over three centuries of Greek experience, Aristotle found a perpetual triangular sequence of democracy turning into oligarchy, whose members then made themselves into a hereditary aristocracy. Inevitably, factionalization within this aristocracy would take place, and one faction would appeal to the enslaved masses by making democratic promises to them. The democratic institutions they would create after their victory would in time again become corrupted by wealthy families, who again would replace them with an oligarchy, and so on.”
Manly Hall elaborates further on the dynamics that lead to democracy’s fall, this time emphasizing the role that dictators come to play in this situation:
“Democracy, for lack of the integrity, devotion, and idealism of its people, falls into chaos.” A monarchial then re-emerges, and the cycle once again continues. “In this emergency the people, not knowing which way to turn, failing to produce within themselves greatness, seek out among themselves a popular leader. They select this popular leader not for his wisdom but because he is the exponent of their own discontent. They choose a man who has the glib tongue to tell them the things they want to hear and not the things they need to know. They elevate this man by popular acclaim, and make him the idol of their time. … He promises them that which cannot possibly be given and he deceives them for a time. There will be some who will rise against him, and upon these he will vent his ire and will call upon the many to assist him and protect him from the intelligent minority. The people … will give him an army to protect him from his enemies, and he will use that army to make slaves of his own people.”
Hall then describes a process which famously befell Rome: the dictator “must constantly protect himself against his own people. He does this by burdening them with taxes and diverting their minds with war. To sustain himself, the dictator will make war against other peoples, in this way holding the enthusiasm of his own people. He will go forth to disastrous wars and will finally destroy his own people who have suffered unbearably beneath the burden of his yoke. In this way he will have destroyed his people and reduced them once more to chaos.”
Summarizing the essential lesson to be learned learned from these repeating patterns of history, Hall informs us that “Wisdom is the integrity to administer any kind of government. Without wisdom they must all fail.”
It is on the need to cultivate wisdom at all levels of society that Plato directed his attention, for he realized that without enlightened leadership and an educated populace, no model of government could work.
The idea he came up with as a solution to this problem is centered around the notion of the “philosophic empire”: a model of government that seeks to enthrone not an individual autocrat or class of oligarchs but rather a philosophic way of life that extends across all levels of the social hierarchy.
In his view, it is only through a widespread social commitment to philosophy that mankind will ever approach a stable and lasting system of government. Consequently, without philosophy being enthroned as the core institution of civilization, the repeated rise and fall of unstable nations and empires must continue as an inevitable pattern.
40. What Democracy Demands of Us
In the evolving models of government overviewed above, a simple pattern is apparent:
As monarchy yields to oligarchy, the onset of a pluralistic motion in human governance ensues, where the responsibilities for governing the state move from the control of one autocratic leader to that of a small elite group. Here, rulership begins moving from a mono-polar to a multi-polar model of governance.
In the original forms of monarchial government, the various powers of religion and state were aggregated together and vested in the being of one all-powerful person. As monarchy cedes to oligarchy however, these powers begin to decentralize and become vested within a shifting coalition of political and economic elites, who end up forming their own dynasties of hereditary descent.
Thus, with oligarchy, the power of government moves from one monarch to a coalition of elite interests, who politically compete with each other for influence over the overall system, which no single individual dominates completely. This is the definition of multi-polarity, although, compared to democracy, it is a relatively limited expression.
This pluralistic motion progresses with the transition of oligarchies into democracies, where more and more people participate directly in the governance of social affairs.
At no time in history has a society operated as a “pure democracy”; rather, democratic institutions interface with the older oligarchical pattern in order to create “republics”.
The move of nations into a republican model of government marks a middle ground between oligarchy and democracy. Here, democratic institutions exist, but ultimately power remains concentrated among an elite class of aristocrats, oligarchs, and state leaders. Through elections, the populace is given a means to interface with the decision-making of these elite groups, but it does not have outright control over them.
This evolving motion in the pattern of human governance, where power shifts gradually from the one to the many, coincides with other long-term shifts that we’ve also covered in previous articles in this series:
As we’ve tracked, over time society gradually has moved away from a primitive pattern of paternalistic governance, where one divinely-appointed monarch governs the populace with absolute authority, and toward a series of evolving new governance regimes, where more and more of the populace takes the reigns of government and begins to govern itself.
As we’ve also tracked, this move toward the adoption of increasingly pluralistic models of self-government coincides with a variety of other shifts, including increased tendencies toward materialism, secularism, and the expression individual self-identity.
The formation of democratic republics is the logical culmination of this long-term motion toward multipolarity in human governance.
At first, the relationship between the public and its elite rulers was “paternalistic”: like children still under protective wing of parents. But gradually this relationship dynamic shifted, with the era of autocratic rulers fading to the background and the responsibility of self-government falling more and more onto the hands of the populace.
With democracy, a comparatively large percentage of the population (“the electorate”) participates directly in the processes of its own governance. While this model of governance is more egalitarian than its predecessors, it can also fall into its own version of evils, as we explored above. To avoid this from happening, the populace must be educated in the requirements of good governance, while also being disciplined away from falling victim to its own base impulses and desires.
On this topic, Hall writes that, “as Plato pointed out, a true democracy, whether absolute or representative, can succeed only when the average citizen becomes informed in the privileges and responsibilities of government.”
Here, public education becomes of critical importance. Without proper education, the populace will fail in its democratic responsibilities, with democracy inevitably reverting back to oligarchy or autocracy.
This public failure to protect democracy can happen in two primary ways:
a) First, an uneducated public will fail to produce adequate leaders from within its own ranks, ones who will take the reigns of government and direct it toward beneficial and benevolent pursuits, ones targeted toward enhancing the general welfare of society as a whole rather than just that of themselves; and
b) Second, to the extent it does produce worthy candidates for leadership, an uneducated public will fail to recognize, support, or elect them, falling instead for populist leaders who make empty promises, tell them what they want to hear, and emphasize short-term, self-centered policies, ones often emphasizing war, wealth extraction, and “bread and circuses”.
So clearly the education of the populace is a necessity for successful democracy to function. The question is, what specific type of education is needed?
We explored in the previous article of this series (Part 5) how mankind has fallen into a materialistic mode of psychology. This is reflected in our educational curriculum: the deeper mysteries of Spirit and man’s relationship to it have been taken out of education and hence out of our awareness.
As the Mystery Schools departed from public view, its doctrine of spiritual teachings departed with it. As its replacement, man received a body of teachings that reflected either the closed-minded theological dogmas of the church or the materialistic and consumption-oriented values and beliefs of the oligarchy. As history (past and present) demonstrates, neither of these educational approaches has proven adequate to produce a society capable of successfully governing itself over the long term.
What is clearly missing from our collective educational program is philosophy and its emphasis on the timeless values of wisdom, virtue, and understanding.
As Manly Hall explains, “Philosophy is the great need of our world. We have struggled on for ages without it and we have failed and failed dismally. We have tried to substitute industry, economics, and policy for that basic internal and intellectual integrity which is indispensable to survival.”
This was the conclusion that Plato also reached: that civilization will only fulfill its potential when first its leaders and eventually its populace are trained as philosophers. The main idea is that Philosophy teaches man to be self-governing; only when man can govern himself is he fit to either govern others or to participate democratically in his own governance.
Hall elaborates: “Man must be internally educated in values before he can administer himself, and until he can administer himself he cannot be part of an enduring state ruled by a system which has as its very keynote the fact that the individual is a self-governing unit.”
If philosophy is our need, how do we enthrone it and disseminate its teachings in those arenas where it is most needed?
In Plato’s view, it is through the leadership of a class of “philosophic elect” that the sacred wisdom teachings of philosophy can be extended throughout the various levels of society, thereby breeding a new generation of philosophically informed leaders to carry the torch and further expand the mission.
Summarizing Plato’s vision, Hall declares that “each child coming into the world should be taught that the … spiritual life within him is the greatest and most important part of himself. … (Therefore,) we must begin by teaching our young to understand that they bear witness to an eternal spirit within themselves. If they are true to that spirit their world is happy; if they fail that spirit they are unhappy and their world fails. That is education. That is the beginning of the creation of a moral universe. That is the beginning of the ethical association of humankind, and the ethical association of humankind is the beginning of the Platonic empire, for the Platonic empire is based upon the supremacy of the spiritual purpose of man over the material selfishness of his personality.”
Bringing things back to the topic of democracy, it is clear that without an electorate comprised of philosophically-minded individuals, democracy will fail, as the weaknesses in each of ourselves will aggregate together to form a great collective weakness, which becomes the mechanism through which the downfall of democracy is ensured.
Plato put it simply: “until kings are philosophers and philosophers are kings, there can be no peace among the nations and states of the world.”
Therefore, only through philosophy is collective security ensured, for without the cultivation of a deep level of spiritual understanding within our leaders and within ourselves, we will continuously fail - and we will continually wonder why.
Hall informs us that “we cannot have peace without understanding, and we cannot have understanding until we dedicate our institutions and our lives and the most sacred part of ourselves to the achievement of understanding.”
He continues: “For mankind, all good things must come to man through man. … The weakness of man, not the failure of the universe, confronts us. … We are the ones who must make the peace. … We must defend it with integrity, which is the foundation of enduring security in every bracket of human endeavor. Therefore we need philosophy. We need it in our schools, … our churches, … and in our policies and economics.”
41. The Philosophic Empire
If the goal is to enthrone philosophy as the central institution of society, the question becomes: “how do we get from here to there?” In the thinking of Plato, the proliferation of philosophy within society must begin with those who are already in positions of leadership and authority.
As Manly Hall writes, Plato “realized that all men were not fitted for a high degree of spiritual realization, but he reasoned that the state was not ruled by all men but by a small group of men who lead and direct the destiny of the rest. He knew that the men who lead must know and understand. If these men lack vision, then all the nation must perish.”
"From these realizations Plato evolved his system of Government by the Philosophic Elect. His ideal state was that in which wise men protected and instructed the uninformed.”
At first glance, this concept seems paternalistic: the wise govern the uninformed. But, as the Tao te Ching asks, “what is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?” What this means is that it is the duty of the “philosophic elect” to educate and raise up the “uninformed” by spreading philosophy into all realms of society.
According to Hall, “we must say that Plato’s plan is social rather than political. It would transform states or nations into social orders, removing the political interference and establishing government as community service and community cooperation.”
Hall also notes that “Plato’s government was a kind of school; some were teachers; others scholars. But as the school boy acknowledges the superior attainment of his teacher, so all men should acknowledge the superior attainments of the wise.”
In this way, Plato “envisioned the state as the teacher of its own people. Religion, science, art, literature, and all the cultural parts of knowledge together constituted the state. … The temple was the city hall, and around this central axis of philosophical enlightenment the community rotated, with all the life and industry of the people being geared to this central motif.”
Keeping in mind Plato’s greater philosophy of life and his doctrine of archetypes (as covered in Part 3 of this series), we discover that Plato’s concept of the Philosophic Empire is the natural outcome of his teachings concerning the sovereign rulership of unity - the One Life - over diversity - the many lives.
As Hall explains, “men should not work under the illusion that their lives and purposes are separate one from the other, but with the realization that the accomplishments of each are part of the accomplishments of all. Civilization is community existence and community interdependence, and civilization requires a standard of mental unfoldment by which each citizen perceives the common good and cooperates towards its accomplishment.”
By “mental unfoldment”, Hall is implying a mystical process of self-realization. Here we discover that the overall “purpose of philosophical education is to release the indwelling integrity (i.e. the Higher Self) so that it may practice dominion over the inferior and unenlightened instincts.”
The process is like that of a sculptor: “the wise man carves out his destiny, perfecting himself as a stonecutter perfects a statue. By education, man chips off the rough parts of himself, and by an enlightened process of elimination reveals finally the perfect image concealed within the irregular and imperfect mass of uncultivated instincts and emotions.”
In other words, if you take away everything that is not the true Self, then all that is left is this true Self. That which is based in illusion and materiality must be shed; when it is, the light of God (the true Self) is what remains.
The disciplines and esoteric sciences taught in the ancient Mystery Schools (of which Plato was an initiate) were oriented around this same goal: of eliminating worldliness within the initiate so that they may gradually come into alignment with their higher Self.
Hall explains that Plato’s idea of the “Philosophic Empire” is directly inspired by these Mystery Schools, with the leader of this “philosophic empire” (which he termed the “Philosopher King”) being a recreation of the hierophant or high priest of the ancient Mysteries. Hall writes: “Plato’s concept of the Empire of the Wise, ruled over by the philosopher-king, was but a political enlargement of the pattern of the Mystery Schools and the perfected men who govern them. The philosopher-king is the adept, the natural leader of mankind, the good shepherd, and the representative on earth of the sovereign gods.”
Accompanying this philosopher-king are the “philosophic elect”: another term for the initiates who are disciples of this central adept or hierophant: “This natural aristocracy of the informed is the only ruling class that can be entrusted safely with the leadership of the state. There can be no end to the wrangling and bickering of princes, and the conspiracies of politicians, until spiritual and mental attainments are recognized as proofs of superiority.”
The association between Plato’s vision of a Philosophic Empire and the initiatic design of the ancient Mystery Schools suggests that there are clear requirements that the leaders of this “empire” must adhere to in order to secure their position as leaders and teachers within it.
Hall informs us that “the sacred institutions of the Mysteries accepted only those who had first regenerated their own lives and brought to the temple abilities rather than debilities. … (Therefore,) the truth-seeker should assume that the higher mysteries of religion are for those who have outgrown the limitations of materialism and not for such persons as have been defeated by the problems of daily existence.”
In short, those constituting the “philosophic elect” are those who have become “self-governing”, meaning they have transcended the inherent limitations of the ego and of unredeemed emotional instincts and have instead allowed the higher spiritual Self to become the governor over their actions, thinking, and behavior.
With their consciousness rooted in the higher Self, the “philosophic elect” are able to perceive and “reframe” the problems of life from the detached and objective standpoint of a “birds-eye view”. This allows them to perceive problems and challenges from the vantage point of “God’s perspective”.
Hall elaborates on the perspective of life that the philosopher gains by adhering to this process: “Following the path pointed out by the wise, the seeker after truth ultimately attains to the summit of wisdom’s mount, and gazing down, beholds the panorama of life spread out before him. The cities of the plains are but tiny specks and the horizon on every hand is obscured by the gray haze of the Unknown. Then the soul realizes that wisdom lies in breadth of vision; that it increases in comparison to the vista. Then as man’s thoughts lift him heavenward, streets are lost in cities, cities in nations, nations in continents, continents in the earth, the earth in space, and space in an infinite eternity, until at last but two things remain - the Self and the goodness of God.”
It is the purpose of the Philosophic empire to espouse this worldview and promote it within the collective body of mankind. And it is the “philosophic elect” that is tasked with leading the way forward toward this desired end.
42. Universal Law: the Basis of Philosophic Education
Plato’s vision for the Philosophic Empire is premised upon the notion that the Universe operates according to an immutable framework of Law. The only way that mankind can build a lasting and sustainable civilization for itself is by learning this Law, obeying it, and implementing its patterns at every level of society.
Manly Hall restates this idea in simple and direct terms: “Space is ruled by motions, laws, and tides that are continually flowing through it. They are motions intrinsic and inherent; they are Laws, absolute and inflexible. … Man may work with them and, by applying what he discovers, accomplish greatly. But if for any reason he works against them, he is destroyed.”
As the record of human history demonstrates, “governments founded without consideration for the principles of universal government will fall. Human ambitions that run contrary to divine purpose cannot survive. Nothing can survive which rotates or vibrates contrary to the Universal pattern.”
The secret of philosophy - and of the ancient Mystery Schools it was originally born out of - is to learn and obey Law. Hall explains:
“As the individual reaches spiritual and intellectual maturity, he realizes that supreme wisdom administers the affairs of creation. He accepts the Divine Law as the greatest good for himself, for it is only in a lawful universe that the constructive works of man can come to their proper fruition.”
“And so the very height and supreme pinnacle of wisdom is to know what the pattern is and apply this knowledge to every institution man has built up. Either we apply the Law to the things we are doing or recognize that they will not and cannot survive.”
Here we return to Plato’s concept of archetypes, a topic we originally explored in Part 3 of this series.
Plato’s concept of archetypes informs us that each expression of life in the Universe is ruled not only by Universal Law but also by an individualized and personalized expression of this Law - one that applies specifically to them. This individual expression of Law dictates the archetype or “design plan” for each life form.
The archetype establishes the Law for each life form’s individual pattern of existence. As each form grows, develops, and evolves, it does so always in relation to its own underlying archetype.
This concept of archetypes applies to each individual human being. It also applies to each nation, as well as to human civilization as a whole: at every level, life is governed by an underlying design pattern that dictates its form, function, and evolutionary pathway toward completion.
The task of the philosopher is to first discover and align with their own personal archetype. For the human being, this archetype is personified as one's “Higher Self”.
The Higher Self is the center of consciousness within each human being. It is a spiritual entity and projects from itself an evolving sequence of physical personalities, which it uses to express its consciousness through within the domain of material creation.
To discover and know the Law of their own being, the philosopher is required to know and integrate with the spiritual part of their own nature - i.e. their own Higher Self. This comes as a mystical experience: an experience of Self-realization.
As Manly Hall informs us, the attainment of true wisdom comes only through this process of coming to know and integrate with your Higher Self. Then, through this Higher Self, the all-encompassing Universal Self - the supreme archetype of creation - can then be known.
Hall writes that “the primary end of philosophy is the attainment of wisdom, or the state of knowing” and understanding. “Philosophy utterly fails in its mission unless that mystical elixir - understanding - tinctures the whole. … Understanding is the ultimate stage of knowledge; it is the perfect realization of the purpose and meaning of things.”
The Philosophic Elect is comprised of those individuals who have attained to this level of understanding and Self-realization. It provides the “ultimate stage of knowledge” and is the “rarest of all faculties”, as it provides the knower with “an intuitive grasp of facts and the power to discern Reality.”
The Reality that the mystic discovers is that “we are each a focus point of universal attention. We are creatures that exist because Consciousness, examining and introverting upon itself, became aware of us as among the infinite potentials of its own power.”
According to the thinking of Plato, the wisdom provided by this experience is necessary for leadership, as it provides “the perfect realization of the nature and relationship of parts to the fundamental unity in which they exist.”
The leaders of the philosophic empire - the “philosophic elect” - govern society based on the principle that all individuals, organizations, cultures, and nations are all held within the being of a common Unity. This Unity is the One Life, and the goal of human life is to fulfill the plans and purposes of this Divine Principle.
This Divine Principle is the source of the Law that we must learn to obey and follow. This is true for each individual, and it is equally true of the collective.
The philosophic empire is oriented toward facilitating this realization within civilization as a whole. This realization is “not merely an intellectual experience but an experience of consciousness;” therefore, the philosophic empire’s underlying motive is to expand human consciousness toward a great collective realization of the Divine Will.
In this way, “Philosophy reveals to man his kinship with the All. It shows him that he is a brother to the suns which dot the firmament. It lifts him from a taxpayer on a whirling atom to a citizen of Cosmos. It teaches him that while physically bound to earth (of which his blood and bones are part), there is nevertheless within him a spiritual power, a divine Self, through which he is one with the symphony of the Whole.”
43. The World Nation and the Temple of Civilization
The trajectory of world events is driving civilization inexorably toward the formation of a world nation, one characterized by a set of transnational institutions and governmental agencies existing overtop our current nation state pattern.
In order for this situation to firmly take root, the peoples of the world must adopt an explicitly global sense of self-identity. Meaning: the peoples of the world must come to see themselves as not just members of a particular nation or race, but also as members of the collective human family.
This leap toward an identification with the human race as a whole and not just as a member of a particular subset of it requires the capacity for us to break down one of the most deeply ingrained psychological habits of humanity: to perceive some groups as “others” and thus as not part of one’s own sense of self.
The psyche of the average individual today is still locked in a “self-other” or “self, not-self” pattern of cognition, where it perceives itself as fundamentally separate and different from certain categories of other human beings.
Our current social environment reflects this attitude: we have different nations, ethnicities, religions, political ideologies, and cultural groups competing with each other, each seeing itself as fundamentally different from and separate from its counterparts.
The quest to build a world nation requires human psychology to tear down these barriers in order that its sense of self-identity may fully embrace its own participation within unity.
The question then arises: how do we do this? What vision will arise to inspire such a change?
By now the answer should be clear: we need a global social movement founded upon the wisdom teachings of ancient philosophy. These wisdom teachings, as the writings of Plato and Manly Hall demonstrate, are premised upon the idea that unity is the foundation of reality and that all diversity - such as the different races, nations, cultures, and peoples of the world - exists only and ever in relation to this unity.
This ideal of the world nation can only come about once we begin to identify with the aspect of ourselves that is part of this unity (i.e. the Higher Self) over the part of ourselves which is enmeshed in the world of diversity (i.e. the physical personality).
Manly Hall expresses the view that the motion toward a world nation is inevitable: it represents an archetypal end-state or destiny that Nature is driving us inexorably towards fulfilling.
He writes: “Nationalism ascends from a state of diversity toward social, political, and economic unity. All progress in terms of nationalism may be measured in terms of increasing inclusiveness: the decreasing of barriers; the breaking down of all artificial psychological and illusional limitations imposed by ignorance.”
Philosophy, or more specifically, the philosophic empire, offers the “shaping vision” for how to achieve this destined end state. This vision is necessary to inspire both our current leaders and the populace at large to participate in actualizing this desired end.
Hall elaborates, writing that “Nations without purpose fail. … A national ideal - a clear vision toward that which is desired and desirable - is necessary to national progress. In the same way, the individual without purpose, vision, or dream, has no focus for his energies.”
For both the individual and collective, we therefore find philosophy to be the indispensable key: it provides not only a vision that we can collectively gather around and work toward, but it also provides the method to achieve this end.
Philosophy’s method is premised around the simple adage: “learn the Law and obey the Law”. Or, put differently: “learn the archetype and obey the archetype.”
This simple teaching applies to each individual human life and it equally applies to our collective social life. As Manly Hall explains, “The grand plan is a supreme seal stamped upon the face of creation. It binds all things to one essential purpose.” By implication, “the world with all its governments, is a Mandala. It is a huge diagram in which all institutions are recognized as extensions of Deity.”
It is the purpose of philosophy to bring civilization to the point where it embodies this divine archetype within its own form and functioning. Through philosophy, principles, ideals, and values must come to rule human life “so that we can produce this vast cosmotheistic commonwealth in which the lesser and the greater all unite in one magnificent unfoldment of eternal principles.”
If we can work through this, we can find our proper governments, codes of law, management philosophies, and design methodologies, “for all of these things are under Law.” For example, “a great corporation is a mandala; unless it is properly, creatively, and constructively used, it violates the Law and fails. It collapses because it has departed from the integrities essential to its survival.”
The overall ethos that we must come to value at the core of our way of life is to “go back to the universal pattern because all things are according to this pattern.”
Hall writes: “Nature is the manifestation of inevitable laws. If man keeps these laws, he is sustained by them; but if he breaks these laws, he forfeits his own security. It is therefore well to take a receptive attitude and to become quaintly observant of Nature’s ways.”
He then emphasizes that “the laws of Nature bear witness to divine love, rather than despotic authority. The real struggle is in ourselves.”
In sum, the evolutionary destiny for civilization is already pre-established by an archetype. This destiny is a global one, and it is one that embraces the idea that this world is a temple of initiation - a great Mystery School - that each human soul is intended to pass through and graduate from.
When the religious institutions of the old pagan order disappeared, the Mystery Schools that they contained did not disappear; rather, they went underground, where they began preparation for their new birth in a global form.
The desired end we must work towards is not just the creation of a world nation, but also a pattern of global civilization in which the great hidden institution of mankind - the Mystery Schools and the institution of initiation that they oversee - can be resurrected once more as the central institution guiding human life.
Manly Hall writes that “while life itself goes on, the Mystery School will continue, but the method by which candidates for spiritual enlightenment will be tested differ with each civilization and are modified to meet the needs of every age. About us now rises a great a mysterious structure; we call it the Temple of Civilization… Here is the new temple of initiation, where every day souls are tested as to their greatness and integrity.”
He continues: “the new ritual is fitted for the new age. At this time, those who believe, through study and thought, that they have come to a little better understanding of the laws governing life, are faced with an opportunity to prove their intelligence by meeting the present condition in a truly philosophic spirit. Here is a great initiation, one of the greatest that the chemistries of life have ever precipitated."
He then asks, “can the philosophically minded individual take the present conditions and use them as opportunities for growth and rational achievement? The test of philosophy is its sufficiency in time of adversity. … A neophyte in the modern Mystery School is armed with the short sword of a little wisdom and launched into the darkness of an irrational world to fight the instincts of possession and selfishness. Having overcome these, the candidate has passed a real initiation test just as surely as those in the caverns of the Mithraic Mystery. Never has their been greater incentive to a betterment of the general condition, and those who meet the present crisis according to the highest standards they know, must be the forerunners and pioneers of a better order of things to come upon the Earth.”
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