This is the online version of the biography of
Ralph deBit, named Vitvan ("one who knows") by his
spiritual teacher Mozumdar. This is the complete text of the printed book, to which we have added
illustrative photos for your enjoyment.
Vitvan: An American Master
by Richard Satriano
who held the Field and knows that
"...by grace are ye saved through faith...it is a gift of God."
It is not my intention to be Vitvan's biographer. He himself dismissed all such proposals. "My life is in my work," he declared. "Know my work and you know me." He was right, of course. The man is plainly visible in his work. His character and the profundity of his insight are demonstrated on every page.
But my own deep sense of gratitude to the man and his accomplishments insists I write this slender volume. It is a prologue, only, to that greater biography that a grateful world will one day write.
May 31, 1975
This book by Richard Satriano presents a sincere and vivid picture of a really genuine Gnostic teacher who has lectured all over this country and written extensively. Paradoxically, Vitvan is little known to the vast mass of contemporary occult readers. Many factors are probably responsible for this anomalous situation. First, some of his writings were privately published. Generally speaking, this does not assure them of an immediate wide distribution. It takes many years for them to percolate down to the general public.
Another factor, perhaps more significant, is that he was firm disciplinarian in spiritual and psychological matters. This would not endear him to those he customarily referred to as "meta-fizzlers." One of the most outstanding of his achievements was the coupling of general semantics with the age-old Gnosis. Few other teachers have attempted this--see some of the letters, for example, in Magick Without Tears by Aleister Crowley, or Insights for the Age of Aquarius by Gina Cerminara--but not one of them has been half as successful in this as has Vitvan. It may well be thatthis alone will gain him and his teaching about the Light-energy world we live in true immortality.
"Few mystics or occult teachers have taken general semantics to their bosoms. Most of them, I fancy, know nothing about the subject. A few hold it in disdain, perhaps out of fear. With considerable pleasure, I urge every student to read The Problem of Good and Evil or The Christos by Vitvan (School of the Natural Order, Baker, Nevada). Both of these books attempts to correlate the ancient wisdom both of the East and the West with the techniques of Count Korzybski who developed general semantics. Reading this literature should considerably broaden the mental and spiritual horizons of the sincere and serious student. It will also help him keep a level head where the occult jungle is concerned, so that he will not fall prey to the vast mass of fantasy and hysteria which has sadly infiltrated this field."
The above paragraph was originally written several years ago. It was included in an introduction to a new edition of an old book of mine. What was written then still strikes me as being valid today--even more so, when the whole field of occultism and mysticism, and all that may be included in these terms, is expanding beyond belief.
I have known of the writing of Vitvan for at least a score of years. Those who first introduced me to his work gave me tantalizing little tidbits of personal data which assuredly did help in making him come alive as a human being. This excellent introduction by Richard Satriano is most illuminating and informative where the fundamental biographical events of his life are concerned. Many of the facts described herein I was not familiar with at all. To mention one example: I experienced a great sense of pleasure in discovering a few details of his relationship with Mozumdar, his teacher. There are references here and there in Vitvan's writings about this teacher, but nothing quite so explicit and detailed as those written about by Satriano.
All in all, this slender volume by Satriano should prove invaluable in introducing the general reader to Vitvan. It is a well-written, thought-provoking and inspiring little book, presenting a warm and at times a profoundly moving appreciation of a great Teacher. The author has drawn heavily on Vitvan's own words. Satriano hopes thus we will the better appreciate Vitvan's spiritual experiences from which he abstracted his present-day Gnosis. It is most reminiscent of what Mme. Blavatsky wrote decades ago in The Secret Doctrine that the latter is "the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages... It is useless to say that the system in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals. That it is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of Seers whose respective experiences were made to test and verify the traditions passed orally by one early race to another ... No vision of one adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions--so obtained as to stand as independent evidence--of other adepts, and by centuries of experiences."
Vitvan went through the same processes, and checked and verified all the ancient findings. His modern presentation of the ancient teaching, however, is couched in the language of the 20th century--the century when the sciences triumphed to make fantastic excursions into space. The "inner space" which they have neglected became his special province. And all that he wrote and taught over the long years was in elaboration of this, the structure-function-order of the Eternal Wisdom.
Many years ago I used the phrase, "the days of the giants are over." Indeed they are. Vitvan was one of those remarkable giant-men who appear so rarely in world history and of whom there are so few that they become in due course of time milestones along the trail of our evolutionary struggles. Credit is due to Richard Satriano in Vitvan: An American Master to have so clearly depicted and painted a full-size picture of what a giant thought and felt and did. No one previously has quite accomplished what Vitvan did. Most teachers have been partitive: expounding this or that phase of the ancient wisdom. Vitvan attempted to present an over-all view of the Gnosis couched in current scientific and philosophical language. He makes demands on his readers. His work does not permit a cursory overview from cover to cover.
He stands relatively alone. He was a gigantic figure in a desert inhabited only be a mere handful of human Joshua trees whose arms are uplifted to the Infinite and Eternal.
Studio City, California
27 September 1976