The Mystery of the True White Brother:
an interpretation of the meaning of the Hopi Prophecy
"For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face: now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known."
(I Corinthians l2)
I had to write this book; I could no more not write it then not breath. Yet, I am ill gifted for it - for the writing of it, as my soul knows little of the art that is needed. I yearn to make of words what the poet does, but never succeed in finding the pleasure which ought to be the fruit. Still I must write and struggle, and yet wish the reader, on his or her entrance into these pages, a voyage less perilous then the one I have taken in writing it.

But that hardly explains why it is that the Hopi Prophecy and the related Mystery of the True White Brother, (central themes, perhaps even melodies which dominate the symphony which is this Strange Fire, this transformation from one civilization to its successor), need be shared with the mothers and fathers of this world, with those who carry what yet remains of community, those who remained home. A good question; its answer central to this book, essential to the core of it. Yet, it is not an easy question to answer, at least not in convincing detail. If I wrote the answer in poetry, it would go like this:

In composing this peace, this interval of grace,
Symphonic Word sings I 'n i,
Sowing rainbow bridges, warrriors in the heart,
Healing for a dying world.
Explaining the meaning of the poem, and of the Prophecy and the Mystery, in prose, will take much longer.
Many years ago I borrowed a friend's car. At some point I noticed a small tan colored pamphlet lying on the back seat. On seeing its title, without really knowing its content, I felt an irresistable need to possess it, to keep it for myself. This I did. Without telling my friend, I stole his little book, which I then kept for many years, reading and rereading it, seeking to understand as much as possible its essence.

The title of the pamphlet was: From the Beginning of Time to the Day of Purification (the whole text of this pamphlet can be found at: The Hopi Prophecy). The contents consisted of a talk given by a Dan Katchongua, a Hopi Indian. The talk was originally given in Hopi and then had to be translated into English. In theme it concerned mainly certain elements of Hopi oral history; and more especially for my interest, a discussion of what is known as the Hopi Prophecy.

I didn't set out, either before or after stealing the pamphlet, to discover the meaning of the Hopi Prophecy. If I had any driving intention at all, it was to try to understand the time in which I found myself living; and then to try to find a way to live responsibly within this understanding.

In its own terms the Prophecy describes the time in which we live; not just the superficial events, but the deepest and most profound aspects. In essence the Prophecy says that a certain crisis will arise and that certain people may appear who know how to resolve this crisis. It does not say they will appear, nor does it say that what they bring will be used by the world to solve its problems. Only that they may appear, and that, if so, they will know the way out, "the life plan for the future"*. [when material appears in quotes in the text (followed by an asterisks *), and is not immediately attributed to a source, it is from the Prophecy, from the pamphlet]

This book is then about the nature of the present crisis that all of humanity faces (including those who remained home, those who carry the weight of tradition). It is also about those others, those who Kahil Gibran called the "forerunners", those who leave home and forsake tradition in order to be able to carry the means to the solution of this crisis, means that have a real content.

All of this has something to do with 'spirit'. But in the age of science, one takes on certain responsibilities if one wants to talk about 'spirit' and remain within the boundaries of real knowledge. Science and religion seem opposed, and this creates a problem. It is a problem that cannot be understood, or resolved, as a matter of argument. There is no process of reasoning, from either the point of view of science or religion that settles the question. On the contrary, the truth goes like this. The resolution is a matter of experience, i.e. direct personal knowledge. I will (along with much else) describe how to get the relevant experience. Anyone who wants to argue the matter has missed the point.

In a sense the weight of the traditions of science and the weight of the traditions of religion make for a seeming incompatability. However, this is not so. Their essential truths blend easily together. Perhaps an analogy will help.

Suppose we are a tribe of people living inland, who not only have no experience of the ocean, we have no word for it in our vocabulary. If someone comes and says: "look, go over that mountain, follow this trail I have drawn on this map, and you will come to the ocean; then you will know." This is what reason and science require; namely, that one who asserts a certain truth must show how another may find the same lesson themselves. In this sense then I will provide a 'map' to the 'spirit'. Anyone, who choses not to follow the map and wants to argue instead, can't claim to be relying on scientific principle, but rather can only be clinging to what is essentially a materialistic superstition. So be it. I will have met, nonetheless, the demand of reason by providing the 'map'.

So that this will be as clear as I can make it, let me go at it from an additional direction. If I were to undertake the study of physics, common sense and a little experience suggests that I ought to expect certain things. One is that it will take a certain amount of time; I will have to devote myself to this study for many years - there will be work and struggle before I can reach adequate understanding. And second, while it might be possible to rediscover all of physics on my own, the truth is that it will be more time efficient to accept teaching; that is to recognize that others will know more and that, especially in the beginning, I will benefit by seeking out those who can aide in the achievement of my goal.

The same thing needs be said about the path to the spirit introduced in this book. It is a work of years, and others must be turned to for their advice and experience. Only he who has striven to achieve in this realm may legitimately form judgements about it. Moreover, no one should quail at the requirement for moral development. Especially in Western culture this has always been the case: That one who sought the spirit needed to undergo trials of purification.

Like the interplay of religion and science, politics and the life of the spirit do not seem to be the best subject for polite conversation. Yet, if we are going to contemplate human existence, and search for some kind of possibility of bettering our's or any other person's way of life, then we are going to have to examine politics.

Fortunately it is possible to investigate this theme and not get caught up in the usual superficial generalities that politicians seem to think is acceptable political discourse. The 'map' to the spirit is going to provide us with some new ways of seeing/knowing/perceiving our social/political existence.

Part of our problem in modern political life has been that we haven't clearly understood the real dynamics of our time, and therefore have misapplied our will in response. Having a healthy society requires certain things, which ordinary people ought to be able to provide for themselves, independent of 'leaders', and in spite of the apparent obstacles. Once certain matters outlined in this book are understood (such as: The social effects of the 'evolution of consciousness' and the laws of 'threefolding' - the laws of polarity), then what to do in order to heal our social life, from the bottom up so to speak, is clear. The "true white brother"* really does have a "life plan for the future"*.

I called this overture/introduction "...through a glass darkly..." because in the beginning I would only be able to point in certain thematic directions, which would have to be vague (dark) until such time as the whole has been able to be savored, comprehended and personally tested.

To me, the world is a song; sometimes sad and tragic, sometimes light and comic, but always full and dynamic. My practice has been to learn to listen to this song, to see how the world, just as it is, is nevertheless a place that has a story to tell, a self-mystery to reveal. This book is, then, only what the world has told me, after I stopped fighting it and accepted it and asked it the questions: who are you, what is this all about and why am I here.

"I am forever looking and praying eastward to the rising sun for my true white brother to come... We know certain people are commissioned to bring about the Purification. It is in the Universal Plan from the beginning of creation, and we are looking to them to bring purification to us."* Dan Katchongua, Hopi Sun Clan Chief

These words are from that small pamphlet entitled, From the Beginning of Life to the Day of Purification. The pamphlet is out of print, the publisher no longer exists, and my sole copy, as I have said, has disappeared over the course of several moves. Fortunately, Robert Boissiere's The Return of Pahana: a Hopi Myth, (Bear and Co., 1990) appears to reproduce in its second chapter the entire pamphlet. This is important, because of all the versions of the Hopi Prophecy of which I am aware, this one seems the purest, the most free and complete. Many other versions usually make a great deal of anticipated cataclysmic events, as if the only theme of human concern was threat of earthquake and flood, as if the Great Spirit only responded to human failing with wrath and destruction. The version in this pamphlet recognizes that the matters of most urgent moment are spiritual in nature, not material, and that these concern not just the Hopi but the whole of mankind. This is the conclusion concerning the meaning of the Prophecy which I have also reached and which is presented in this small book.

The exposition of the Hopi Prophecy which follows cannot take a straight forward path. The world we live in is complex, itself a weaving of many themes. In our journey to the heart of the Prophecy we will examine a variety of threads, only to lay them aside for a moment in order to examine others before being able to see the pattern that is being made. We will have to wait to the very end before being able to step back from our work and behold the remarkable tapestry that has been given to us.

After many years of life experience I have come to understand that the World is a story about Itself. This is not so simple as it might seem, for the World is complex, and its story, no less then our own, is full of mystery and paradox. For example, each characteristic People is also a part of the story, which as a theme sings of what a whole human being is meant to become. That is, ultimately, when we have evolved into our full humanity as individuals, we will not be Hopi, or American, or Black, or any other 'type', but rather some aspect of each. Thus, we have latent in each of us, in some part of our own story, that which resonates with these experiences, and which is, for example, akin in its nature to the Hopi, to the People of Peace. The individual is meant, finally, to discover and evoke all these parts, all these story-pictures, in the finding of his or her own self - in the rediscovery of their own soul and spirit.

In this sense then the Hopi are not just themselves, but also a theme sung by the World Song - an image of something hidden in all human hearts. No one should think therefore that the Prophecy is directed just to the Hopi. The Prophecy, and as well this book, exists for the Hopi - the People of Peace - in each of us.

In this work I am going to use two kinds of ideas - ideas of fact and ideas of faith. I don't expect the reader to have to 'buy' either kind of idea, but I do believe it is important that we be very careful not to confuse certain kinds of experiences that ought otherwise to be distinguished. This is part of facing "the problem of the idea of mind", of being self honest toward the questions represented by the dichotomy in our culture between 'spirit' and science.

Words can be used to create inner pictures This is the author's task. However, when a word or sets of words and their related idea - related inner picture - lie outside the reader's experience, or the readers system of belief, then it is possible for the thread of the author's thought to be lost, for the bond between writer and reader to be broken. For this reason then I will seek to identify those ideas of faith which I don't expect the reader to accept, but which I ask the reader to tentatively include in the inner picture he is letting me build up in his imagination.

In the end this will be very important for us because the final evocation of the meaning of the prophecy will involve a inner picture tapestry created out of ideas of both kinds. The reader will then find whether the ideas of faith 'fit' in with the ideas of fact in such a way, that at least from the writers 's point of view there is justification for combining them. I ask no more of the reader then that: to make the effort to 'see' what I have tried to communicate as a whole - not to judge the parts, but the whole.

The title of this book is: The Mystery of the True White Brother: an Interpretation of the Meaning of the Hopi Prophecy. I do not by this mean that the identity of the true white brother is mysterious, but mean rather the more archaic use of the word mystery, namely as a sacrament. The true white brother brings a new understanding of the sacred life, a new mystery, and the hope of this book is to introduce the reader to this "sacramental thinking", and its significance in the context of human life.
Imagine: We are standing face to face. I see you, at least your outside - your body - as you see me. Only we (ourselves) see our 'inside'. And if we are accepting of the idea of the unconscious, we must admit to seeing of our own 'inside' only a part.

The questions to me are: which is the greater, or in another sense, which is the most real, the most true; our outside or our 'inside'? Is one the cause of the other? Which rules which?

Clearly in this brief present moment of history a great deal is made of how we appear, how we look. Clothes, bodily form, for many these are matters of great importance. One suspects, in fact, that the 'inside' of such a person can become somewhat dried up, withered as a result of the neglect of its own development, and by the over-emphasis on the perfection of appearances. Even so, we should not assume this is true in all cases. Many a woman has found this seeming good (beauty) more of a curse, in that it misdirects us from seeking the hidden light within.

We know also that from these 'inner' depths spring all great art and certainly all great deeds. The saint, the poet, the warrior, the source of their power is not visible to the eye. We see only bodily form; but never character - never virtue, genius or courage. At least with the physical eye, we only see 'outsides'. But we have another 'eye', the eye of the mind, to which we refer when in understanding something we say, "I see...what you mean...".

These facts seem to me, at least, to mean that the 'inside' is more central to human existence then the outside; and therefore, that this 'inside' is something which needs as much attention paid to its development and cultivation as that which is now paid to the perfection of outer form, to beauty and physical health.

Yet, the tendency of modern thought is to reduce this 'inside' to mere processes of chemistry and electricity. I find no truth there. To me, the thinking which finds the human 'inside' to be a product of electro-chemical processes in the brain, this thinking is still concerned only with outsides, even if it is only the outside of the cell or the molecule or the atom. Such a path of investigation (a science of 'outsides') does not seem to me to be capable of understanding either virtue, genius or courage. Somehow we must turn inward and investigate the 'inside' as an 'inside', through imagination, introspection, meditation, contemplation and prayer.

My own experience is that when this is done, carefully and objectively, something unexpected and rather remarkable begins to reveal itself.

When the human being 'thinks', a truly mysterious event happens. World becomes symbol, or perhaps more poetically and more realistically, world becomes word. In spite of all that is written at present about brain physiology and computers, this mystery will, I believe, never be truly understood by the endless 'scientific' speculation one encounters today concerning these riddles. Only "thinking" can divulge its own secret. The mystery must confront itself.

When we write (or speak), this symbol/word can be given an intention; for example, the intention to share one's own experience of the world. Thus, we use 'word' to transmit, from the "thinking of one human being to the 'thinking' of another some sense of this personal 'world' experience. World becomes word to become again world. This is a cooperative act. The intention to share must be met with the good will to receive.

When this is done well, from both sides - as in a true marriage, a miracle occurs. What one has learned can become the knowledge of another; if both stewards of the 'word' practice the true artistry of their craft. Speaking must be met with equal skill at listening; writing must reach a mind that yearns to 'read'. Such a 'marriage' is made possible, not by the transmission of information - abstract ideas, but by a kind of finger pointing and imaginative picture painting, from the side of the 'sender', and open hearted goodwill on the part of the 'receiver'.

It has been argued that we can know only "discursively" (i.e. by someone telling us) or by "acquaintance" (direct experience). What I am describing combines both such methods, in that by my 'words' I direct your attention to something, which you would otherwise experience, but not necessarily notice or observe, were I not to 'point my finger'. One can then, by the 'word', teach another just how one sees the world, so that they can 'see' it the same way. If they choose.

Consider what happens when we read a sentence. Our thinking does not laboriously add up the separate meanings of the individual words, but rather lives in the flow of concepts as they blend into and mutually inform each other. Our 'mind' is not on the words at all, but floats - as it were - above the sentence, outside the physical page and its lines of dark on light. It is almost as if both time and space are dissolved in the act of reading, such that the reader transports himself into the mind of the writer, living within the world as conceived there.

Thus, in something so ordinary as writing and reading, if we are awake to it, both mystery and miracle confront us. Drink deeply enough this simple truth and you may find that the world is a place of purpose, and that we are that purpose.

A very wise book declares that man is the image of the Word, and that the Word itself once became a man. My experience is that the world is a Song, and man having been Sung into being is also meant to be a singer.

"Who rise from the flesh to spirit know the fall: The word outleaps the world and light is all." Theodore Roethke
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