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PAIN, SEX AND TIME
A New Outlook on Evolution and the Future of Man
Monkfish Book Publishing reissue now available
from Gerald Heard's Introduction to
Pain, Sex and Time
Our present situation parallels [19th century English essayist] Sydney Smith's, but on a lower level. He saw the beginning of a degenerative process of which we are witnessing the end. The international anarchy, which in his day increased from the stage of occasional professional duels to the raising of whole nations en masse against one another, and involving the educated, the savant and the philosopher as much as the common people, has now reached a final phase.
To tell men there is hope when they have abandoned it, is as painful to them as to take it away when they are still clinging to it. It is as agonizing (indeed often more so) to regain as to lose circulation by frostbite, to regain breathing and consciousness from drowning as to lose it. Our age is one of growing discouragement. It must be so. We have seen why. As Proust remarked more than twenty years ago, "We say spontaneously, 'Too good to be true,' never 'Too bad.'"
A hopeful hypothesis must then be supported with evidence which would not have to be maintained by one which chimed with the tolling of the current curfews.
The hypothesis of this essay will, therefore, require the following somewhat detailed substantiations, if it is to receive any attention. Those who find such confirmatory particulars tiresome must blame the discouraged spirit of our time. It takes considerable time and much patience (when time is short and patience scarce) to convince a horse in a burning stable (a simile to which we must revert at the end, for it is sadly apt to our condition) to leave its smoking stall and come out into safety.
The first chapter gives the evolutionary evidence which indicates that in the entire advance, from the most primitive forms of life up to the completion of man’s physique, the one clear coordinating achievement is heightened awareness. The task of life is the retention of general awareness and the avoidance of any partial apprehension or absorption which would blunt or restrict that expanding sensitiveness. In following this master clue through the jungle of geology, Dr. Robert Broom's The Coming of Man proves an invaluable guide. It is a book which no modern historian or natural historian can disregard. For the final period, of man’s specific rise, Professor Le Gros Clark's work, Early Forerunners of Man, is important, giving as it does the physical evidence that in man, as in all the previous forms which give rise to his stock, the same principle, of unspecialized awareness, was decisive.
The second and third chapters assemble the evidence for believing that in man and in him alone is now left a store of evolutionary energy and that that energy can give rise to his further, purely psychical evolution, but that, balked as it now is, its only adequate outlet is that which is threatening and will destroy civilization and humanity.
The fourth chapter attempts to indicate how man’s evolution is not only continuing but that there is no break in this stream of evolution, which raised his stock from the level of the lowest creature to where it is without animal equal. We are not compelled to believe that evolution must flash over from the bodily to the mental, from physique to consciousness, without any intermediate stage or step. There is remarkable evidence that man does go through a middle and bridging stage of evolution, half-way between purely physical and purely psychical evolution, between development through change of physique to development through change in consciousness. This stage is illustrated by the evidence for the growth of man's senses, especially the emerging dominance of sight over all the rest, in particular over smell, and next, sight’s acquisition and expansion of a wide-ranged colour awareness.
The fifth, sixth and seventh chapters will trace in an historical outline with an attempt at chronological correlation, the emergence of the specifically intentional evolution of consciousness. These chapters will attempt to show that it is only in so far as man can intuitively or intentionally balance the growth of his mind, and understand himself as well as he understands his environment, that he can continue evolving and not relapse into strangulated self-consciousness which gives him means without ends and powers without sanctions. The meaning of history is here seen as the attempt on the part of historical man to co-operate with this rightful evolution, to gain increasing intensity of understanding without losing or contracting his general awareness; to retain into full consciousness his profound apprehension of the meaning of the whole, of every part’s unity in that whole and of his vital co-operation with them and with It.
The concluding chapters will therefore deal with the last epoch—in the last phase of which we are living—when the increasing intensity of awareness no longer permitted man to retain his sense of the whole (and of the laws and sanctions such a whole imposes on its parts). We shall see that he did not at once act on this warning. He did not instantly set about bringing his psychology, his knowledge of this psyche, up to the same level of intense knowledge which his physics had reached. Finding his intuitive psychology (at this stage rendered in the degenerative forms of anthropomorphic religion) hopelessly out of date and in conflict with his physics, he simply let his religion go and with it, inevitably, after a while collapsed his ethics, of which religion had been the inadequate but only sanction. Now, however, with his sanctionless ethics in ruins, and no longer capable of straining in any wise his physics, he is compelled to think of sanctions. He becomes aware that he must understand his own nature, his psyche. He realizes that vague and ever vaguer intuitions in psychology and ethics will not be able to balance, control and direct clear and ever clearer knowledge in physics. He must make a science of himself, and have a power over himself, as reliable and as effective as the science of his environment.
He must discover why he experiences this paralysing and destructive conflict. He must go back to where it became acute and there learn how, when it was mild, by what methods it was kept under control. From those old methods he may learn how to devise new ways enabling him to master his present conflict. In short, he must relink himself, by self-knowledge, once more to his evolution, find where this interior force became sundered from his consciousness, repressed, balked and therefore deadly, and by giving it intentional outlet, by understanding its purpose in and for him and co-operating with it, save himself and let evolution resume.
Yet this is much to ask of himself. For it will appear that it is his individuality which causes the trouble. It is the cause and symptom of his sundered and thwarted psyche. Nor is that all. To assuage its misery it has created an environment—the present competitive, internecine, mechanized, militarized world—which prevents its cure, its reduction.
If, then, in us and through us evolution is to be resumed and to continue on to new levels (new levels of consciousness) it will need something more than any private, subjective resolution. The continuation of evolution consciously to higher consciousness needs complete devotion, complete knowledge and a complete way of life, so as to give the psyche those conditions under which all its efforts at growth will not be thwarted by its circumstances. As well hope to continue evolution in our competitive society where the aims are to satisfy the ego and (instead of eliminating it) to stabilize it by addictions, possessions and pretensions, as to rear, from seed, orchids in the arctic.
The concluding chapters therefore give indications of the psychiatry, the economy and the policy which are the minimum if man is to attain that trained condition in which alone his further evolution is possible.
Copyright © 1939 Gerald Heard. Copyright renewed 1967 by Gerald Heard. Copyright transferred to The Barrie Family Trust. All Rights Reserved.
PAIN, SEX AND TIME is available for purchase at the sites below:
PAIN, SEX AND TIME was the favorite book of legendary screen icon James Dean.*
* James Dean: The Mutant King by David Dalton, Straight Arrow Books, 1974, p. 263.
PAIN, SEX AND TIME
"Gerald Heard's book represents a significant attempt to reinterpret in contemporary terms and in the light of modern knowledge the teachings, practical no less than theoretical, of the traditional religious philosophies, with their profound optimism about human potentialities, their empirically justified pessimism about man and society as they mostly are and have been. At a moment like the present, when the humanistic philosophy of progress is revealing itself as hopelessly unrealistic, and when ever-increasing numbers of reflective people are sinking through bewilderment into despair, the publication of Pain, Sex and Time seems particularly opportune."
Professor Huston Smith from his Foreword to the 2004 edition of Pain, Sex and Time
"Overnight, the book in hand converted me from the scientific worldview to the vaster world of the mystics. I applaud the decision to bring this book back into print."
E. M. Forster in The Listener
"One could spend all one's time praising the book but that is not what the writer wants. He wants to help the human race. These are the problems to which he brings his selflessness, his erudition, his great intellectual powers."
Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White
"Although published in 1939, this book was way ahead of its time. It should attract a large readership in this third millennium whose minds it will open to new ways of thinking about pain, sex, time, and a leading-edge spirituality that may just now be coming into its own."
"Gerald Heard was a prime catalyst in the founding of Esalen. Heard’s evolutionary mysticism, as encapsulated in Pain, Sex and Time, represents the basic worldview that I believe is trying to emerge in the world today. I am very pleased to see this book re-issued, and I heartily recommend it as a classic that has stood the test of time."
Harry Allen Overstreet
"Exciting reading to any one who has learned to despair of what we have liked to call our human achievements."
Marvin Barrett in Parabola (read the entire review)
"It is my hope that the youth of a new age every bit as threatening and chaotic as the one I faced in the 1940s will find in these pages an illuminating vision of where the human race came from and where it might still aspire to go."