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J.G. BENNETT- Biospheric Symbiosis

Posted by digitalseance on March 23rd, 2007

john godolphin bennett elizabeth bennett

The Biospheric Symbiosis



The total society of mankind can be understood only by reference to the great symbiosis1 of which mankind is a part. This is the Symbiosis of the Biosphere, which is the transitional society between the Autonomic and Hypernomic Worlds.2 We stand here before a structure that evidently comprises elements that are still lacking in our human experience. We know that the Biosphere, as a society of living organisms, has existed for many hundreds of millions of years and that it is likely to persist so long as the climatic conditions on the earth’s surface continue to be controlled by the interchanges of energy between the atmosphere, the oceans and the outer layer of the crust. There is no apparent reason why this should not continue for another thousand million years.


The Biosphere includes all that is associated with life on the surface of our planet; and here is a situation of prodigious complexity for mankind alone. There are more than three thousand million human beings living at the present time; we cannot estimate the total number of human individuals that will live through past and future history. We exist on the earth with many thousands of billions of animals, vertebrate and invertebrate. The whole is interlaced with a network of connections that defies description.

Man is represented by one species and there have probably not been more than three or four species of hominidae in the million and a half years of man’s existence on earth. Within the total Event that started with the appearance of life on the earth and which will end with its final cessation, humanity occupies, in duration and magnitude, a very small place. The significance of man as a dominant life form in the Biospheric Symbiosis consists in a task to be performed in the Evolution of life on the earth. ‘CO With this in mind, we can set up a structure of societies beginning with Individual Man and ending with the Biosphere as a whole. It can be represented by the structure c of the three interlocking processes of the enneagram. In the Biospheric Symbiosis, three major processes coalesce into a Grand Cosmic Cycle:

1. The Transformation of Human Selves into Individuals.

2. The Evolution of Humanity.

3. The Spiritualization of the Biosphere.

These three distinct cycles spring from three independent sources. Each of these characterizes a radically distinct kind of society or element of the total symbiosis. The total character of the Biosphere must be a matter of conjecture, but is, no doubt, connected with the role of life as the reconciling element in the Universe.3 Life on the earth presents us with a complexity of relevances too immense to be represented by a single structure. Because of this, we will deal only with the proper role of mankind in the Biospheric Symbiosis.4 As we are dealing with three independent processes, we can make use of our ideas regarding the harmony of the enneagram. Each source or “do” leads into three stages before the need for “blending” arises. These three triplets can be deduced from the nature of the sources.

Initial stage.
Second stage.
Third stage.

The Human Person
The Family
The Clan or Nation
Initial stage.
Second stage.
Third stage.

The Cultural Community or
The Total Human Situation limited in time, the Epoch
The Total Human Situation unlimited in time Humanity
Initial stage.
Second stage.
Third stage.

Man as a vehicle of
The particular form of life in which Spiritualization is concentrated. Evolving Stem
Form of Existence dominant in the Biosphere. Dominant Life-Form

These nine stages together form nine elements of which three are sources and six are steps. The enneagram has only nine points, but one of these appears twice, as the point of entrance and also the point of exit. This is due to the property of the enneagram of representing cosmic situations in the intransitive dimensions of Space and Eternity and the transitive dimensions of Time and Hyparxis.

The first sequence enters into, beyond the national societies, the international symbiosis, here called the Epoch.5

Epochs are associated with the conscious evolution of mankind, and therefore grow in importance with each successive stage. The Epochs outlive many generations of mankind -usually their duration is of the order of a hundred generations. Beyond the Epoch is the Humanity at one of the major stages of its evolution. For example, we are now in the stage when humanity is be-coming conscious of its own wholeness (One-World Awareness), but not yet of its role in the Biosphere. When the time comes, a transformed ‘Humanity will begin the task of guiding the evolution of all life on the earth towards its great destiny. At a still later stage, a new Humanity quite unlike the human race as we know it today will set itself to coalesce the soul of the Biosphere.

These speculative prophecies of the very distant future are suggested by the structure of our diagram. At the point where Humanity assumes responsibility for its own evolution, it meets with a new problem: that of the Spiritualization of the Biosphere itself. It will then be seen that human existence has no separate significance and that a prodigious change of attitude towards all life on the earth will have to be accepted if further progress is to be made.

The Evolving Stems of the past have all prepared the way for the next step forward. Thus, mammals have prepared the way for the coming of man. Humanity will discover its role as an Evolving Stem of the Human Life-Form that will eventually complete the transformation of life.

In describing the Symbiosis of the Biosphere we will be obliged to look forward into the future. The reason for this is that Man is a relatively recent arrival in the Biosphere and has not yet developed the properties that will eventually distinguish him existentially from the animals. We write existentially, because in his essential nature man has been totally different from the animals since he first appeared on the earth.

The symbiosis we are studying in this section is perceptible in time and space. We cannot observe directly the eternal pattern upon which it is constructed; but we can deduce it on systematic principles. The hyparchic significance6 escapes us altogether-in other words, we have no means of answering the question whether the Biospheric Symbiosis corresponds to the Destiny of the Biosphere. If we could know the answer to this question we would know a great deal about the destiny and future of mankind.

At the present time, our interest must necessarily be directed mainly to the societies that are exemplified in our experience.

The Family

The family can be taken as the entire field of personal contacts of man and woman. The tendency to weaken family ties that has developed recently is generally agreed to be retrograde. The family society was formerly taken as including three generations. The clan or sept, owning land in common and claiming descent from a common ancestor, gives us a possible upper limit to the authentic bond of family. The extent of a family society can be recognized by the existence of a personal link between its members. A man may never have met or heard of some other member; but he can “place” him by his parentage, dwelling-place or occupation. Thus we can recognize sub-groups of members within a complete family society. They are all kith and kin, but they do not all perform the same function. In the ideal patriarchal society, there are sub-groups working in harmony on the different levels of the selfhood. Some are occupied with material needs, others with satisfactions and others again with teaching and transformation.

Thus, the family is the natural environment in which the existential man develops. Its main influence is upon the four Selves that receive their content mainly from the family. The Personality draws from all sources. It is very probable that a family society shares in a common Fate.

The family also has an essential significance inasmuch as it is to provide the conditions for acquiring disposition and discrimination. This task belongs to its inner life. The family has a symbiotic relevance for the Biosphere as the natural unit of existential humanity. It is with the family that transformations of the human life-form begin.

In all human societies, the family is the prime social force within larger social complexities. The symbiosis of the family leads us directly on to the next stage: the nations.

National Societies

The family is a centrally directed unity. The members share a common heritage that holds them together. The heritage includes consanguinuity, common experiences, possessions held in common, a common language, beliefs and traditions. The pull of these forces is not exhausted when they cease to produce a personal linkage. We can recognize, beyond the limits of the family, societies with a more complex structure, but which are still unified by ties of the same kind. These societies are nations or peoples. Such societies have existed on the earth from before recorded history. They are usually held together by geographic boundaries as well as a common heritage; but the latter is the true bond of nationhood. This is verified by observing the ability of nations to preserve their unity in migrating into a new geographical environment. The common heritage usually includes a common language and a marked endogamic tendency. from Enneagram Studies J.G. Bennett

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