6. A GALACTIC UTOPIA

The events that I have been describing took place, or from the human point of view will take place, at a date as far future to us as we are from the condensation of the earliest stars. The next period of galactic history covers the period from the fall of the mad empires to the achievement of Utopia in the whole galactic community of worlds. This transitional period was in itself in a manner Utopian; for it was an age of triumphant progress carried out by beings whose nature was rich and harmonious, whose nurture was entirely favorable, and their ever-widening galactic community a wholly satisfying object of loyalty. It was only not Utopian in the sense that the galactic society was still expanding and constantly changing its structure to meet new needs, economic and spiritual. At the close of this phase there came a period of full Utopia in which the attention of the perfected galactic community was directed mainly beyond itself toward other galaxies. Of this I shall tell in due course; and of the unforeseen and stormy events which shattered this beatitude.

Meanwhile we must glance at the age of expansion. The worlds of the Sub-Galaxy, recognizing that no further great advance in culture was possible unless the population of awakened worlds was immensely increased and diversified, now began to play an active part in the work of reorganizing the whole galactic continent. By telepathic communication they gave to all awakened worlds throughout the galaxy knowledge of the triumphant society which they themselves had created; and they called upon all to join them in the founding of the galactic Utopia. Every world throughout the galaxy, they said, must be an intensely conscious individual; and each must contribute its personal idiosyncrasy and all the wealth of its experience to the pooled experience of all. When at last the community was completed, they said, it must go on to fulfil its function in the far greater community of all galaxies, there to participate in spiritual activities as yet but dimly guessed.

In their earlier age of meditation the Sub-Galactic worlds, or rather the single intermittently awakening mind of the Sub-Galaxy, had evidently made discoveries which had very precise bearing on the founding of the galactic society; for they now put forward the demand that the number of minded worlds in the Galaxy must be increased to at least ten thousand times its present extent. In order that all the potentialities of the spirit should be fulfilled, they said there must be a far greater diversity of world-types, and thousands of worlds of each type. They themselves, in their small Sub-Galactic community, had learned enough to realize that only a very much greater community could explore all the regions of being, some few of which they themselves had glimpsed, but only from afar.

The natural worlds of the galactic continent were bewildered and alarmed by the magnitude of this scheme. They were content with the extant scale of life. The spirit, they affirmed, had no concern for magnitude and multiplicity. To this the reply was made that such a protest came ill from worlds whose own achievement depended on the splendid diversity of their members. Diversity and multiplicity of worlds was as necessary on the galactic plane as diversity and multiplicity of individuals on the world plane and diversity and multiplicity of nerve-cells on the individual plane. In the upshot the natural worlds of the “continent” played a decreasing part in the advancing life of the galaxy. Some merely remained at the level of their own unaided achievement. Some joined in the great cooperative work, but without fervor and without genius. A few joined heartily and usefully in the enterprise. One, indeed, was able to contribute greatly. This was a symbiotic race, but of a very different kind from that which had founded the community of the Sub-Galaxy. The symbiosis consisted of two races which had originally inhabited separate planets of the same system. An intelligent avian species, driven to desperation by the desiccation of its native planet, had contrived to invade a neighboring world inhabited by a manlike species. Here I must not tell how, after ages of alternating strife and cooperation, a thorough economic and psychological symbiosis was established.

The building of the galactic community of worlds lies far beyond the comprehension of the writer of this book. I cannot now remember at all clearly what I experienced of these obscure matters in the state of heightened lucidity which came to me through participation in the communal mind of the explorers. And even in that state I was bewildered by the effort to comprehend the aims of that close-knit community of worlds.

If my memory is to be trusted at all, three kinds of activity occupied the minded worlds in tills phase of galactic history. The main practical work was to enrich and harmonize the life of the galaxy itself, to increase the number and diversity and mental unity of the fully awakened worlds up to the point which, it was believed, was demanded for the emergence of a mode of experience more awakened than any hitherto attained. The second kind of activity was that which sought to make closer contact with the other galaxies by physical and telepathic study. The third was the spiritual exercise appropriate to beings of the rank of the world-minds. This last seems to have been concerned (or will be concerned) at once with the deepening of the self-awareness of each individual world-spirit and the detachment of its will from merely private fulfilment. But this was not all. For on this relatively high level of the spirit’s ascent, as on our own lowliest of all spiritual planes, there had also to be a more radical detachment from the whole adventure of life and mind in the cosmos. For, as the spirit wakens, it craves more and more to regard all existence not merely with a creature’s eyes, but in the universal view, as though through the eyes of the creator.

At first the task of establishing the galactic Utopia occupied almost the whole energy of the awakened worlds. More and more of the stars were encircled with concentric hoops of pearls, perfect though artificial. And each pearl was a unique world, occupied by a unique race. Henceforth the highest level of persistent individuality was not a world but a system of scores of hundreds of worlds. And between the systems there was as easy and delightful converse as between human individuals.

In these conditions, to be a conscious individual was to enjoy immediately the united sensory impressions of all the races inhabiting a system of worlds. And as the sense-organs of the worlds apprehended not only “nakedly” but also through artificial instruments of great range and subtlety, the conscious individual perceived not only the structure of hundreds of planets, but also the configuration of the whole system of planets clustered about its sun. Other systems also it perceived, as men perceive one another; for in the distance the glittering bodies of other “multi-mundane” persons like itself gyrated and drifted.

Between the minded planetary systems occurred infinite variations of personal intercourse. As between human indi-viduals, there were loves and hates, temperamental sympathies and antipathies, joyful and distressful intimacies, cooperations and thwartings in personal ventures and in the great common venture of building the galactic Utopia.

Between individual systems of the worlds, as between symbiotic partners, there sometimes occurred relationships with an almost sexual flavor, though actual sex played no part in them. Neighboring systems would project traveling woridlets, or greater worlds, or trains of worlds, across the ocean of space to take up orbits round each other’s suns and play intimate parts in symbiotic, or rather “sympsychic” relationships in one another’s private life. Occasionally a whole system would migrate to another system, and settle its worlds in rings between the rings of the other system.

Telepathic intercourse united the whole galaxy; but telepathy, though it had the great advantage that it was not affected by distance, was seemingly imperfect in other ways. So far as possible it was supplemented by physical travel. A constant stream of touring woridlets percolated through the wholy galaxy in every direction.

The task of establishing Utopia in the galaxy was not pursued without friction. Different kinds of races were apt to have different policies for the galaxy. Though war was by now unthinkable, the sort of strife which we know between individuals or associations within the same state was common. There was, for instance, a constant struggle between the planetary systems that were chiefly interested in the building of Utopia, those that were most concerned to make contact with other galaxies, and those whose main preoccupation was spiritual. Besides these great parties, there were groups of planetary systems which were prone to put the well-being of individual world-systems above the advancement of galactic enterprise. They cared more for the drama of personal intercourse and the fulfilment of the personal capacity of worlds and systems than for organization or exploration of spiritual purification. Though their presence was often exasperating to the enthusiasts, it was salutary, for it was a guarantee against extravagance and against tyranny.

It was during the age of the galactic Utopia that another salutary influence began to take full effect on the busy worlds. Telepathic research had made contact with the long-extinct Plant Men, who had been undone by the extravagance of their own mystical quietism. The Utopian worlds now learned much from these archaic but uniquely sensitive beings. Henceforth the vegetal mode of experience was thoroughly, but not dangerously, knit into the texture of the galactic mind.