CHAPTER TEN

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Vitvan returned to California and established himself in Los Angeles. In 1923 he incorporated his teachings as a non-profit organization called The School of the Sacred Science. The school was loosely structured. Vitvan held classes on a fairly regular basis but he traveled extensively during the winter months. In the summers he rented facilities in the country and held seminars for interested students contacted on his lecture tours. He founded a monthly publication, The Sacred Science Magazine. And he wrote and published several books under the school's aegis, including The Textbook of the Sacred Science, Universal Will, Healing Technic and The Lord's Prayer.

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In 1925, while lecturing in Colorado, he found what he thought would be "the perfect location for a school and ashram." By now a small and more or less permanent group had formed around the teachings. Vitvan purchased 320 acres of land in Bailey, Colorado. He and his students spent the better part of two years building an ashram and school there. Po-Ahtun, as it was called, became the permanent headquarters for the school until 1942.

The pattern for the school had already been established by Vitvan. He lectured during the winter months, returning periodically to check on activities among the permanent residents at the school. In the summer full-fledged seminars were organized from a larger number of students recruited on the winter lecture tours.

In spite of the harsh winters and the absence of luxuries, the small group survived the depression years in good order and prospered in their learning. Vitvan held his students in high esteem. He provided an environment relatively free from outside pressures and diligently devoted himself to their instruction. The days at Po-Ahtun are remembered as a highlight of joy and attainment.

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But as the years passed, Vitvan's satisfaction with his students and the school was being offset by a growing dissatisfaction with the form and content of his instruction.

"I was experiencing an inner dissent against my very own methods of writing and teaching. I had bravely declared to Mozumdar that I would pioneer a new approach to the Ancient Gnosis, formulate a restatement, devise a new methodology suited to Western Man. Instead, I wrote and taught in the time-worn vernacular, couching the truths I knew in mystical terminology and perpetuating the charade of occultism and metaphysics. Of course I knew better, but I could not seem to find a specific language descriptive of the awareness I had and one that I could correlate to contemporary reference.

"Mysticism belonged to a past cycle. It had begun to eclipse at the close of the Periclean Age. It is an uncertain path at best: an unstable approach to knowing. Its appeal is to emotional experience, not to the highest criteria of truth. Elevated states of consciousness can be contacted mystically, emotionally, with feeling, love, etc., but they are extremely difficult to stabilize. Up today and down tomorrow. Mysticism, in fact, can be quite dangerous. There is simply no force that can be brought to bear on gains made.

"The Higher Ones had allowed the mystical approach to subside and move toward obscurity. A new cycle was brought in to focus consciousness on objectified phenomenal appearance. Under this direction lower Manas or mind developed the faculties of reason and analysis. When these rational skills are fully evolved they serve as tools with which man can synthesize the findings of his cortical investigation. They can also act as stabilizers to the emotional response engendered by the quickening force of emerging consciousness.

"Thus justification by reason becomes a fortification against the 'flown-away virtue' of mystical sensation and feeling. And in time mankind will come to use these newly developed faculties of mind for the true purpose for which they were intended: to substantiate the next step in our evolutionary expansion and development.

"I operated in full knowledge of all of this but I continued in spite of myself to orient my writing and teaching to a mystical point of view. It was a strange dilemma. The very terms 'metaphysics' and 'occult' had become distasteful to me, but I continued to sprinkle them over everything.

"Occult, of course, means hidden or secret. In terms of the Gnosis there is no such thing. Even the Good Book says, 'For there is nothing hidden which shall not be manifested, neither was anything kept secret.' To be sure, in ancient times symbolism was a secret language, but it was used by reason of the fact that the consciousness of the students of the Wisdom Teachings had not evolved, racially speaking, to the state where they could grasp abstract ideas and meaning. The consciousness of objective identification was so powerful that they had to have something to correspond to their objective state, which was represented by symbols--something they could see and touch.

"Today we should be able to dispense with symbols because it is possible to clearly describe meaning. This would be a tremendous advantage, not only in individual development but in the advance of the race consciousness as a whole. We needn't have to resort to symbols as representation. Because of the extension of intelligence today (primitive as it is relative to what is yet to know) we could talk about the structure-function-order of the Eternal Wisdom and penetrate into perception without using symbols, which in effect obscure meaning, causing it to be 'hidden.'

"I clearly perceived this and I knew from my seven years with Mozumdar that there is no such thing as a 'secret teaching.' If there are secrets they do not depend on the Master but on the disciple. The Master can open the door but it is for the disciple to perceive what lies beyond. The only secrets that exist exist for individuals with dull minds, because 'seeing, they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.' So where and what is the occult?

"By the same token, metaphysics is a meaningless word. 'Meta' signifies something beyond, transcending, higher, other than. In general usage in the race consciousness of the past cycle, metaphysical teachings and doctrines, as well as religions, carry an inference that they are 'other worldly,' an intellectual refinement of the old penitential preachers' exhortations of my youth: 'This world is not my home,' a denotation that somewhere beyond this world is Reality.

"Now the very idea that this world is an illusion, that there is no truth, reality or substance in matter, should, I believed, be firmly contradicted and counteracted without equivocation, on the grounds that this attitude contravenes the empirically established facts, leads to psychological inconsistencies which create inner conflicts, engenders disorders in the psyche, induces an attempt to function in opposition to the natural structure of the nervous system, creates an unbalanced state and results in a series of psychosomatic maladjustments, to say the least. On top of which, it just ain't so! This world, universe, creating process, etc., is a dynamic energy system, and when it is clearly and properly perceived, represents Reality--and there is no 'other than,' beyond, behind, or hiding in the wings.

"Now isn't that clear? ... And I knew that. But at the time I could not for the life of me find a nomenclature outside of the traditional mystical language with which to address myself."

In his desire to find a proper framework for describing what he was later to call "the ongoing process," Vitvan determinedly extended his own education.

"I registered for any course pertinent to me, especially those in science, and I greatly increased my reading. I was dedicated to finding a way to describe the Ancient Gnosis in contemporary terms.

"I had read that whole new systems of mathematics had been formulated by theorists to give proper delineation to new concepts. Well, I was not so ambitious as to attempt a new language, but I could not accept the oft-heard criticism that the English idiom lacked the subtleties of construction necessary to the expression of abstract ideas.

"It seemed to me to be a matter of the right approach--of finding a new architecture to build upon. What I was really looking for was some kind of fulcrum to move the weight of words, with easy balance, from obstacle to catalyst and clear the path to knowing."

Vitvan was to pursue that quest for almost ten years. Then in the summer of 1937 one of Vitvan's sons visited him while on a semester break from his university studies. Vitvan always enjoyed the companionship of his children. They were all eager and intelligent youngsters and the stimulation and camaraderie they afforded Vitvan always buoyed him whenever they came.

The young man was in his second year at college. As with all previous visits, it was great fun to try to confound Father with some new idea or intellectual gambit. This time it was a book.

"Here," he said, "Here's something I'll bet you haven't read--something that's going to be a brand new experience for you."

He thrust the volume into his father's hand. The book was Science and Sanity--An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, by Count Alfred Korzybski. Vitvan began casually to thumb through the book. But as his eyes scanned the material he began to read with interest. Soon he was deeply absorbed.

The boy protested, "I didn't mean that you must read it now, Father."

But Vitvan was totally immersed in his reading.

That evening he did not come to supper and the light in his room burned through the night. Late the following afternoon he finished the book. He could not contain his excitement.

"I've found it!" he said. "Here is the key. This man has shown me the way. It is possible now, with this system, to correlate the Ancient Gnosis with modern scientific findings; to formulate a new articulation suitable to present the Wisdom Teachings on a level comparable to our present state of development."

In the next three months Vitvan diligently studied Korzybski's book. Finally he wrote to the publishing house for permission to correspond with Korzybski himself. He soon established a regular exchange of letters with Korzybski and eventually determined to go to Chicago and take a course in General Semantics that Korzybski was teaching at the University of Chicago. He made the trip to Chicago in the Fall of 1938. Vitvan was then 55 years old.

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