THE LIVING AND THE DIVINE
Part 2: The New Biocentric Image of the World
Chapter 4: On the Origins of Life
4.3 Pre-formation and Epigenesis
That which is present in 'Ur' matter is present in the cosmic oneness; it will take on multiple
individual form in the course of endless eons of time. What, then, is it that can be envisioned as present,
since there is no way that any belief in pre-formation can plausibly argue that the hordes of living forms
that have emerged over countless epochs actually pre-existed in embryonic individual forms. All of the,
clearly epigenetic, life for ever rebuilt anew from the physical and chemical reservoir of the world
cannot have been there from the beginning. Nor can the energy and substance sucked into the life processes
over time from the cosmos, to be released again by living matter, be attributed to 'Ur' living. The force of
life in countless billions of forms throughout all the generations of the world is not there at the beginning
as potential energy of life. It is not a mass of energy pertaining to life, preserved as living substance.
And yet, from a different perspective, there must also have been, at the outset of the whole unfolding
of life an unimaginably dynamic force of life, capable of being released throughout all time, a dynamic
intensity equal to it. That intensity of life cannot be likened to anything pertaining to the human body,
since it encompasses the total power of life in all of reality and cannot perish.
While this 'Ur' life potential does not coincide with the extension of life into countless individual entities,
it must not be understood as merely a kind of 'spark', able to set a whole world on fire while remaining a minute,
compatible part of the sea of fire that emanates from it. So, the dynamic of life cannot have hosted a single
living cell, even if it were everlasting, of the same kind as later ones; every peak of development that an
unfolding life would ever attain later must indeed have lain in the Ur' organic substance, perhaps as intensity.
One might say that it was, inevitably, not like a pre-formation of form, but rather like one of the potential peaks,
an intensity. Immortality and the capacity to rise to the highest that living ever attained or that organization of
life would ever attain lay from the beginning in that which is living in living 'Ur' matter.
One can see the respective rungs as quality of life, an increase or decrease in the potential of life, or
as quantitative measures of life, so that a higher creature literally represents 'more' life than a primitive one.
We need to take into account that, while this 'more' or 'less' life designates intensity and is measured in degrees,
there is a clearer quantitative measure that belongs to the degree of development that life has attained, length of
life, capacity for reproduction of the species over time, size of organisms, number of individual formations, all
expressions of the increasing degree of life's ability that surpass the capacity of single beings. (Neither immortality
nor even the capacity for an increasingly advanced development can be understood as 'epigenetic'; that would mean that
more rises out of less, i.e., that something can come from nothing.
If we seek to understand that which was there 'from the beginning', we need to consider that there is a certain
amount of interweaving of qualitative and quantitative in life's unfolding possibilities. We can now speak about
specific areas: the power that living substance has to develop further and higher, the capacity for unlimited
reproduction, the cosmic unity underlying multiple individual forms - not in the sense of a mere extension, a
mere spreading of life, where the level is not altered and only quantity is added to the quality of the species.
The size of the number of individuals of one species within which there exist different kinds of creatures depends
on the quality of the bounds, favourable or unfavourable for the life of a creature, e.g. a lion or a rabbit;
numerical size goes with the species of life qualitatively and, as such, belongs to the domain of pre-formation.
One cannot speak of single examples of pre-formation, which, as the sixteenth century theory of encapsulation would
have it, already existed in the 'Ur' organism from earliest time. One would have to assume a measure of individuation,
to be explained as a principle of subdivision of a form of life where e.g. the measure of the duration of a life
rhythm and the measure of the respective increase in reproduction of a given individual couple would be factored in.
However, the quantity of individuation, within which there now appear properties of a temporal rhythm that belongs
to inanimate life, is an aspect of the composition of a living being and, as such, belongs to its material, living
That 'Ur' form now enshrines every living property that is to be created from it. And yet the process is not one
where countless beings lie encapsulated within the 'Ur' form, as do seeds. It is more like an impulse, or rather the
phenomenon of creation through an impulse, with an intensity that emanates from it and is then communicated to an
endless number of mediators and thence propagated. In other words, the organising forcefulness at work within an
initial organism, or rather within something in the process of becoming an initial organism, must necessarily be
brought into an equation with the whole of that life that not only actually emanates from it but also all that
which is able to emanate from it, even if it never does so. We cannot see everything that is passed on as sheltered
within and thus attributed to the later organism, a mere instrument of reproduction, a minute particle of life through
which life is transmitted.
In short, the organization of life contains everything, but that which is being organized does not, because
being organized means that the impulse has already been received and passed on.
And yet, we must not let the similarities provided by the impulse analogy mislead us into overlooking differences
between the particularities of the impulse in living beings and in the material realm. The life impulse is not 'distributed'
among the countless bearers that take it onward; each individual does not receive a fraction of the original impulse;
each bearer can, in theory, though hardly in effect, receive the entire impulse; every single living unit or pair can,
on principle, be the first link of an endless reproductive chain, just as the 'Ur' form was. There is, however,
another aspect of the analogy that does fit perfectly: the capacity to organize matter does diminish; the capacity
is broken up or rather scattered and, as such, loses power. That which has been organized is passed on, that which
organizes it is not, or at least not for ever. More specifically, organized living is the part of the organizing ability
transmitted in its end form. This includes complete individuation and the division into a multiple.
We thus need to distinguish between two kinds of living phenomena: life that has crystallised into material form
and structure functioning within that form and that which brings that form itself into being. The latter is potential
life, as it were, in the realm of sense experience; we receive from it a greatly weakened, partial replication of the
potency of life in embryonic matter. The capacity to choose between a number of possibilities and take into account
unusual or rare circumstances is closed off by making a specific choice of possibilities and circumstances. One might
say that the stage of deliberation of life ends and is not transmitted by the completed form; new adaptations can only
take place, if at all, in a highly restricted way.
We need to see the period during which formation, transformation and active choice occur as one. It is the
period of 'Ur' organisms, when gender, reproduction, has not yet defined itself and the cycle or birth, death and
reproduction has not yet set in. It precedes the period of completed, self-reproducing forms. A protean transformation
and a fluid taking shape, whether in a process of coming into existence while still within the 'Ur' substance or while
separating off from it must have replaced or, to be more precise, must have delayed for an indeterminate period, the
necessity of birth, death and reproduction. And yet, the earliest, major directions orienting the beginning that
separated out a unified life in the cosmos, must have appeared in these 'Ur' organisms.
Branching out into higher forms of life, where gender is the condition of individuation cannot be understood as
having been a development to division from some absolute state at one point, a development into the existing species that
'gradually' evolve into the carriers of male and female functions. The emergence of gender from an undifferentiated
material life must be thought of as having taken place as a result of some specific type of subdivision into unequal
kinds ( a principle that we do come across quite frequently). It probably goes back to the earliest era of life's
origins, to the phase of the formation of organisms.
The 'Ur' organisms containing all higher life, indeed all of life in the world and within which the power to
fashion life's ideas was operative at full intensity, could not, in the initial stages of individuation, have been
individual in the later sense of that word. Since they held the life of the whole living species, they must be envisioned
as in some perspective equal in value to the immense power of life that was to burst forth from them in the course of all
future world epochs. They were not individual points, mere stations on the stream of life, but reservoirs of their origins.
The whole of later life is not pre-existent in the form of eons of encapsulated seeds within these 'Ur' beings. Rather,
it is an unlimited store of power to form, able to create and in the process of creating the structures of life that
outlast the ages of the world.
The imagination can envisage a totality of bodies of countless generations and present it as a single life intensity
of cosmic dimensions. There is in these 'Ur' organisms a dynamic that can build whole worlds and create something that
is equal in force to countless millions of hearts, bloodstreams, muscles and nerves, a limitless ocean, a world body
consisting of everything that has ever lived or ever will. Moreover, that drynamic cannot be imagined as other than conscious.
It may be a dormant consciousness or it may be a particular kind of consciousness, not conscious of itself, one that our
research has not encountered. There has to be something from which consciousness can emerge and exist and it must therefore
have some of its properties. That something, a drive towards specific forming awakens from living 'Ur' matter and separates
from it as one, or perhaps as several 'Ur' organisms. And whatever the process was - whatever the imagination strives to
apprehend - it follows from the nature of the cosmic phenomenon called life, that that which life attains last and highest
must have been present in that very first determining drive that set in motion living 'Ur' matter. Having a goal means that
whatever is ultimately attained and realized was there from the outset.
We need therefore to posit a dormant existence of 'life ideas' within living matter and try to think how living matter
can be affected. It would almost seem as if, at some point, there arose an impulse to separate, permeating the entire 'Ur'
matter; as if the driving force of life sought to break out and life's desiderata separated, creating countless forms; as if
this process had modeled itself on some gigantic 'sorting out' process, beginning with the crudest and always leaving over
ever higher possibilities. Let us, for the moment, consider an image that does not satisfy the criteria of the imagination
of reason, but it gives an intuitive comparison that allows us to clarify the direction of our thinking; just as in
sculpture, the roughest and most generalized pieces are the first pieces to be hewn out of the raw material, so one
might see a comparable process in the plant world, which is closest to the essential 'Ur' living matter qua matter and
where the most powerful first breaking off is 'peeled off', 'taken off' before a more elevated form can be wrought.
However, here, that which falls away from unformed living then organizes itself into forms. Using another image, we might
see all micro organisms, perhaps even the whole, vast insect world of small, lower living beings as the 'sawdust' of living
'Ur' matter of creation; here, it is only that which has a will to live and to take on form that breaks away.
Setting such thoughts aside, we now need to find a realistic representation and to address the question: how did
the conscious-like desiderata of 'Ur' life in their drive to take on form affect matter?