|The Theory of Eternal Life by Rodney Collin||Source|
"For students, scientists, skeptics, and mystics.
For the curious, for the lovers, for the philosophers,
and the seekers. This book is a summons, a challenge,
a surprise, and a gift."
"The Theory of Eternal LIfe assimilates the teaching and the wisdom of great mythological, religious, and spiritual sources into a coherent and complete view on what is uniquely possible when consciousness comes into human form.
"Within the framework of his "theory", the mystery and meaning of death are revealed and both life and death are placed in larger context within which to work and grow.
"Anyone who can see beyond their own personality will be fascinated and inspired by Mr Collin's work."
Rodney Collin Smith was born in Brighton, England, on April 26, 1909. His father was a general merchant who retired from his business in London at the age of fifty, as had always been his intention, and after a journey to the continent and Egypt, settled in Brighton and married Kathleen Logan, the daughter of a hotel proprietor. They lived in a comfortable house on Brighton Front, where Rodney was born. His brother was born four years later.
His mother was interested in astrology and belonged to the local Theosophical Lodge. She spent much of her time transcribing books into Braille for the blind.
Rodney went first to Brighton College Preparatory School (a nearby dayschool), then as a boarder to Ashford Grammar School in Kent. He spent his holidays reading, usually a book a day which he got from the public library, and walking and exploring the neighbouring countryside. On leaving school he spent three years at the London School of Economics, living at the Toc H hostel in Fitzroy Square.
In 1926 he spent the summer holidays with a French family in the Chateaux country, and from then on went every year to the continent. At eighteen he went to Spain, provided by his parents with money calculated to last for a month. By living in inns and farmhouses and in the cheapest hotels and walking much of the way he managed to tour Andalusia for three months, returning with voluminous notes which formed the material for Palms and Patios, a book of essays published by Heath Cranton in 1951. During this trip he learned enough Spanish to cause his being drafted into the censorship during the war and greatly to facilitate his orientation in Mexico in 1948.
On leaving the London School of Economics where he had taken his B.Com., he earned his living by free-lance journalism on art and travel, contributing also a series of weekly articles to the Evening Standard and Sunday Referee on weekend walks round London. For a time he was secretary of the Youth Hostels Association, editor of their journal The Rucksack and assistant editor of the Toc H Journal.
In 1929 he visited Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. On a pilgrimage organised by Toc H to the Passion Play in Oberammergau in 1930 he met Janet Buckley, his future wife. In the same year he read A New Model of the Universe by P. D. Ouspensky. He felt that he was not ready for it yet, but that it would be very important for him later.
In the autumn of 1931 he went on a walking-tour through Dalmatia, later describing some of his adventures there in two articles that appeared in the Cornhill Magazine.
He and his wife were married in London in March 1934, and spent their honeymoon walking in Cornwall. Later in the year they spent six weeks in Sicily. In 1935 they were introduced to some lectures given by Dr Maurice Nicoll, but shortly after left for a six-months' motor journey through the United States to the west coast, returning along the Mexican border.
In the autumn of 1936 he and his wife first met Mr Ouspensky. Rodney immediately recognised that he had found what he had been searching for in his reading and travels. From then on he dedicated all his time to the study of Mr Ouspensky's teaching.
His daughter Chloe was born in 1937. He and his family moved to a house in Virginia Water near Lyne Place, which Mr and Madame Ouspensky had taken as a centre for their work. When not at Lyne Rodney spent much of his time in the British Museum Library studying those aspects of religion, philosophy, science and art which seemed most immediately connected with Mr Ouspensky's lectures. That year he and his wife went on a short holiday to Roumania and later for a two-weeks motor trip through Algeria to the north of the Sahara.
In 1938 he took part in a demonstration in London of the movements and dances which formed part of the system taught by Mr Ouspensky, and immediately afterwards went to Syria in the hopes of seeing the 'turning' of the Mevlevi Dervishes. This he was unable to do, though he met the sheikh of the tekye in Damascus.
On the outbreak of war he and his family moved to Lyne Place. Shortly after, his wife and daughter went to the United States to help prepare a house in New Jersey for Mr and Madame Ouspensky, who planned to move there within a few months. Rodney remained at Lyne, working in London in the censorship during the day and in the local air raid defence at night. In February 1941 he was transferred to Bermuda, by coincidence on the same ship on which Mr Ouspensky travelled to the United States, to which Madame Ouspensky had gone a few weeks previously.
After six months in Bermuda Rodney joined the British Security organisation in New York. For the next six years he and his family lived at Franklin Farms, Mendham, a large house with gardens and farm where work was organised for the English families who had joined Mr and Madame Ouspensky and numerous others who attended Mr Ouspensky's lectures in New York. Rodney commuted to and from his office by train every day and spent the evenings and weekends on the farm.
In 1943, he was sent to Canada on official business. In 1945, 1944 and 1945 he spent his short leaves from duty in Mexico, to which country he was strongly attracted. When war ended he left British Government service and devoted himself entirely to the work of Mr and Madame Ouspensky.
Gradually, however, he spent more and more time with Mr Ouspensky, driving him to and from New York for his meetings and usually spending the evening with him at a restaurant or in his study at Franklin Farms. He became deeply attached to Mr Ouspensky in a way that included, without being limited by, personal affection and respect. While formerly he had concentrated on Mr Ouspensky's teaching, it was now the teacher and what he was demonstrating which occupied Rodney's attention.
Mr Ouspensky returned to England in the early spring of 1947. Rodney left Mendham just before Easter, spending a week in Paris before joining Mr Ouspensky at Lyne Place. He was with him constantly all summer and autumn until Mr Ouspensky's death on October 2, 1947.
The experiences that Rodney went through at this time profoundly affected his whole being. During the week following Mr Ouspensky's death he reached a perception of what his future work was to be. He realised that, while attached to his teacher for and through all time, he must reconstruct in himself what Mr Ouspensky had given him and thereafter take the responsibility of expressing it according to his own understanding.
He moved to London, where he and his wife lived quietly for the next six months. During the previous summer he had begun The Theory of Celestial Influence, and finished it in the spring of 1948. Many people came to see him at his flat in St. James's Street, where weekly meetings were held, attended by a number of the people who had worked with Mr Ouspensky, some of whom were to join him later in Mexico.
In June 1948 he and a small party left for New York en route for Mexico, which he felt was his place for a new beginning.
They spent six months in Guadalajara. Here Rodney finished The Theory of Eternal Life, which he had begun in London, and wrote Hellas, a play. Then they moved to Mexico City and after a few months took a large house in Tlalpam, where they were joined by a number of friends, many from England. Meetings were started in a flat taken for the purpose in Mexico City and attended by a number of Mexicans and people of other nationalities. For a time there were meetings in both English and Spanish, until those of the English-speaking group who remained had learned sufficient Spanish to participate in joint meetings conducted in the latter language. The nucleus of a permanent group was gradually formed.
In the spring of 1949 the first translations into Spanish of Mr Ouspensky's books were begun. These were subsequently published by Ediciones Sol, which Rodney formed for the purpose. During the following years some fourteen titles were published, which included books by Dr Nicoll, Rodney himself, and several others connected with the Work. A number of booklets were also published on different religious traditions which Rodney felt to be expressions of related ideas.
One of the chief plans which Rodney had visualised during the week after Mr Ouspensky's death was for a three-dimensional diagram expressing simultaneously the many cosmic laws which were the basis of their studies â€” a building through which people could move and feel its meaning. In 1949 a site in the mountains behind Mexico City was acquired and in 1951 the foundation stone of what is now known as the Planetarium of Tetecala was laid. Tetecala means 'Stone House of God' in Aztec, and happened to be the name of the field in which it is situated. This building became the focal point of Rodney's work with his people during the subsequent years.
In the spring of 1954 it was decided to leave the house at Tlalpam. Twelve public performances of Ibsen's Peer Gynt were given in the garden as a demonstration of group work, under the name of the Unicorn Players. Rodney played the part of the Button Moulder. Later that year, those who had lived at Tlalpam moved to individual homes in Mexico City.
In 1954 and 1955 Rodney made journeys to Europe and the Near East, the basic reason for which was to collect material of and make connections with esoteric schools of the past. On his visit to Rome in 1954 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, a step which he had been contemplating for some time.
As a consequence of the distribution of the Ediciones Sol books in Latin America groups were started in Peru, Chile, the Argentine and Uruguay, and contacts made in several other countries on the American continent. In January 1955 Rodney visited the groups in Lima and Buenos Aires and went to Cuzco and Maccu Picchu to study the remains of their ancient civilisations.
In the autumn of 1955 the Unicorn Players produced The Lark, a play by Jean Anouilh about Joan of Arc, in which Rodney played Bishop Cauchon.
In January 1956 he led an all-night pilgrimage on foot from the Planetarium to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, some 50 miles. During Mass in the Basilica he apparently fainted from exhaustion, though later it seemed evident that this was the first of a series of heart attacks from which he died in Peru on May 5, 1956.
â€” Janet Collin Smith
Probably the manner of each person's death is consistent with the manner of his life. Rodney had never spared himself physically, and in the last weeks, although suffering from an exhaustion that was obviously extreme, drove himself to hold daily meetings in Lima, innumerable private conversations and long hours of Movements. He admitted to feeling 'rather strange* in the high altitude of Cuzco â€” 11, 800 feet â€” and contrary to his life-long habit of avoiding medicines took several doses of coramine.
The day he arrived he found a cripple beggar-boy in the cathedral. After lunch, while the others in the party were resting, he took the boy up the mountain to the great statue of Christ that overlooks the town to pray that he might be healed. Then they went to the public baths where Rodney washed him with his bare hands and dried him with his own shirt. He then bought him new clothes. Outside the shop a crowd had gathered, intrigued that a foreigner should concern himself with a poor Indian boy. Rodney said to the crowd: 'This boy is your responsibility. He is yourselves. If you pray to Our Lord to make him well, he will be healed. You must learn what is harmony; you must learn to look after each other; you must learn to give â€” to give.' Someone in the crowd said: 'That's all very well for you â€” you're rich.' Rodney answered: 'Everyone can give something. Everyone can give a prayer. Even if you can't give anything else, you can always give a smile; that doesn't cost anything'
That night a few people came to Rodney's room in the hotel to ask him about his work. During the conversation a man said: 'All my life I have wanted to pray, but have never been able to.' Rodney said: 'And what do you think you are doing now? What you just said, isn't that praying?'
Next day the boy came to take Rodney to the belfry of the cathedral to show him where he was allowed to sleep in a comer under the bells. To reach it there is a. climb of ninety-eight steps. Afterwards Rodney went with the rest of the party to visit Inca ruins in the mountains.
After lunch, again while the others were resting, Rodney went out. He climbed up to the cathedral belfry to find the boy and sat on the step below the low containing wall, below an arch. He told the boy that he was going to arrange with a doctor to operate on his twisted leg. While talking he was looking at the statue of Christ on the mountain opposite. Suddenly he got up with a gasp as though his breath had failed, staggered forward onto the top of the low wall, grasping the two wooden beams that were supporting the arch. Then he fell forward, striking his head against one of them. His body fell onto the wide cornice that juts out below and slipped off, falling to the street below. He lay where he fell, his arms out sideways in the form of a cross, his eyes open as though looking up at the sky, smiling.
It is not unusual for a man to die of a heart attack after climbing a long flight of steep stairs at such an altitude after weeks of physical effort in a state of exhaustion. It is the natural consequence of physical conditions. It is also natural, on a different level, for a man who has believed with all his being that the object of life is to give all he has for the love of God, in the end to give himself.
On his tomb in the cemetery in Cuzco are engraved the words he wrote two months before his death:
I was in the presence of God;
I was sent to earth;
My wings were taken;
My body entered matter;
My soul was caught by matter;
The earth sucked me down;
I came to rest.
I am inert;
I gather my strength;
Will is born;
I receive and meditate;
I adore the Trinity;
I am in the presence of God.
From: Bardic Press
Rodney Collin, born Rodney Collin Smith, was one of the students closest to P.D. Ouspensky. He was born in 1909 in Brighton on the south coast of England. He attended the London School of Economics and became a professional writer and an enthusiastic hiker. His first book, Palms and Patios, was an account of a walking tour through Spain, and was published in 1931, when he was twenty-two years old. During the early 1930s he wrote for a variety of English publications such as the Evening Standard, the Spectator and the New Statesman, and was on the team for the Daily Express Encylopaedia. He joined a number of organizations that were typical of the interests of the timeâ€”Toc H (a Christian society), the newly formed Youth Hostel Association, and finally the Peace Pledge Union, an extraordinarily popular pacifist movement that appeared in the run up to World War II. He was evidently searching for some meaning in life, and contributed actively to each of these societies, moving from one to the other, editing both the Toc H journal and the YHA newsletter the Rucksack. He met his wife, Janet, on a Toc H pilgrimage to the passion play at Oberammergau in 1930.
In 1931 he read a New Model of the Universe by P.D. Ouspensky, and in 1935 he and his wife attended some talks given by Maurice Nicoll, who had been a pupil of both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, but he did not continue with Nicoll's meetings. Through one of the members of the Peace Pledge Union, Robert de Ropp, he was introduced to Ouspensky's lectures.
Rodney and Janet became active members of Ouspensky's group, which was going through a period of expansion and increased activity. He attended lectures and meetings, and worked in the grounds of Lyne Place, a large house in Surrey devoted to Ouspensky's activities. 1938 saw a presentation of Gurdjieff's movements, and a visit by Rodney to Damascus and Aleppo, where he contacted the Mevlevi dervish groups. The Collin Smiths bought a house in Virginia Waters to be closer to Lyne, and their daughter Chloe was born. Rodney worked in the gardens and spent many hours in the British Library, studying esotericism, art and civilizations.
The Second World War led to a reduction in the activities of Ouspensky's groups, and the situation in London eventually became so difficult, with blackouts and the loss of Ouspensky's private flat and Colet House, that Ouspensky had to move to America in order to keep his groups going. Janet and Rodney assisted in the buying of Franklin Farms in Mendham. Rodney worked as a censor in the British Security Commission, which enabled him to transfer to New York, by way of Bermuda. He travelled to America, by chance, on the same ship as Ouspensky did, the s.s. Georgic, and hence had some closer contact with his teacher.
America brought difficult times for Ouspensky. A number of the more influential English students were able to establish themselves in New York, but much had to be built again from the beginning. Ouspensky was drinking heavily and many of his older pupils have written critical accounts of this time. But after a dramatic evening when Collin confronted Ouspensky, Collin realised that Ouspensky was actually living the work and that much more could be learned from him. After this, Rodney Collin began to take a more active role in Ouspensky's work, spending a lot of time with Ouspensky and eventually leading meetings for him.
By 1947 Ouspensky was suffering from advanced kidney disease. In January he returned to England and Lyne Place. Rodney followed in the Spring, and the last months of Ouspensky's life were a time of miraculous possibility and intense change for Rodney. Ouspensky led a series of meetings which threw his pupils back on their own resources. He said that he abandoned the system. For many this was the end of the road, but Rodney found that many things began to come together for him from now onwards. Collin's intimate and inspiring account of this period, entitled Last Remembrances of a Magician, was circulated soon after Ouspensky's death, but has never been published. In August Collin wrote the outline to The Theory of Celestial Influence, a study of man and the universe according to the cosmological ideas of laws of the system.
In September, Ouspensky planned to sail back to America, but at the last moment refused to do so. His final few weeks were filled with extraordinary efforts. When Ouspensky died on October 2, Rodney locked himself away in Ouspensky's rooms for a number of days without food. When he emerged he seemed by many to have changed. In the following months he wrote Last Remembrances and The Theory of Eternal Life.
In 1948, along with a few followers, Rodney and Janet moved to Mexico, which he had visited a number of times during the war. They lived in Tlalpam for a couple of years. The Theory of Eternal Life was published anonymously in 1949, and around this time he wrote Hellas, a play concerned with the different stages of Greek civilization. He continued to work on the Theory of Celestial Influence, which was finally published in Spanish in 1953 and in English in 1954.
During this time Collin's group held regular meetings, and he purchased land outside of Mexico city for group work. During the week after Ouspensky's death he had conceived the idea of a building based on the enneagram and the diagram of the four circles used in Eternal Life. Work began on the building, which took many years and was never finished.
By 1953 Collin was entering into a new period of work. The idea of harmony became central to his aim, and he attempted to establish connections to the other groups who tried to continue the work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. He had good relations with Maurice Nicoll, whose books Rodney had had translated into Spanish and were published in Mexico by Ediciones Sol, but Dr Nicoll died that year. He visited Mendham again, but found both the other students of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky strangely lacking in any ongoing sense of the miraculous.
A number of new Mexican pupils joined, among them a lady named Mema Dickens, who began channeling messages from Ouspensky. Collin took these seriously, and this opened up an unbridgeable gap between him and the majority of the other work groups. Collin wrote and published a number of small pamphlets, among them The Herald of Harmony, The Christian Mystery and The Pyramid of Fire. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1955 and traveled in South America, Europe and Asia, looking for the traces of the Fourth Way, allowing himself to be guided by the messages he was receiving from Ouspensky. During this time he drove himself very hard physically, taking little rest. In early 1956 he collapsed, and seemed in retrospect to have suffered a heart attack after a marathon pilgrimage to a cathedral. In May he, his wife, John Grepe and Mema Dickens left to visit Rodney's group in Peru. While the other party members were having a siesta he climbed to the top of a cathedral tower along with a beggar boy whom he was helping, suffered another heart attack, and fell out of the tower into the cathedral square, where he died.
Rodney Collin's writings include:
Palms and Patios
Written when he was twenty-one years old, this is a vivid account of his travels in Spain.
The Whirling Ecstacy
A translation of part of Les Saints des Derviches Tourneurs, itself a translation of Aflaki's Lives of the Gnostics. This looks at Rumi and his friend and teacher Shems-ed-din.
Last Remembrances (of a Magician)
Distributed in typescript, but never published, this is Collin's intimate and unpolished account of Ouspensky's last months.
The Theory of Eternal Life
Written after Ouspensky's death, this intense book unites the various theories about death, the soul, recurrence, reincarnation and immortality.
A verse drama which looks at different stages of Greek civilization, with Homer, a Socrates and Plato who resemble Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and Plotinus and Porphyry.
The Theory of Celestial Influence
Collin's monumental work. Begun as a classification of the sciences according to the ideas of the System, it grew to include the universe, man, and civilization, all looked at from the point of view of ideas such as the Law of Three and the Law of Seven and the enneagram.
The Pyramid of Fire
One of a series of pamphlets. This one investigates the ancient gods of Mexico.
The Mysteries of the Seed
Based around the Greek Mysteries, the authorship of this pamphlet is disputed, and it is my current opinion that, while it was definitely published by Collin, he was not the author.
The Herald of Harmony
A poetic look at school and civilization from the beginning of time until the new civilization of which Collin felt he was a forerunner. Collin sees Gurdjieff and Ouspensky as two poles of a work designed by Higher Forces.
The Christian Mystery
The events of the drama of Christ and the unfolding of Christian civilization are placed on the enneagram.
A Programme of Study
Issued for his groups, this pamphlet outlines many of the general ideas that they studied.
Lessons in Religion for a Skeptical World
A posthumously issued pamphlet, consisting of notes and fragments, mostly with a religious perspective, some of which have probably been revised by his students. A second part to this was published in Spanish only.
The Theory of Conscious Harmony
A posthumous collection of excerpts from letters. Collin was a great letter writer, and these excerpts, organised by topic, offer an encouraging and emotional perspective of the Work. Unlike some of the other posthumous publications, Conscious Harmony is entirely authentic.
The Mirror of Light
Collected from his notebooks, this feels more authentic than Lessons in Religion, but still contains some writings that were probably not Collin's. A second collection was issued in Spanish only, entitled La Nueva Luz.
The Legacy of Rodney Collin
Article by Anthony Cartledge, author of Planetary Types: The Science of Celestial Influence
(Originally published in New Dawn magazine May-June 2000.)
Beloved Icarus is an astrological approach to Rodney Collin's life, written by his sister-in-law, Joyce Collin-Smith
Call No Man Master
[Also by Joyce Collin-Smith. Her memoirs provide the fullest first-person account of Rodney Collin.]
Call Man No Master is back in print, so the ebook has been taken down. Buy through Amazon.com
Interview with Joyce Collin-Smith
The first half of an interview by William Patterson that covers the same ground as Joyce Collin-Smith's published works.
Gauquelin's Legacy: New Evidence for Planetary Types
An earlier article by Anthony Cartledge, author of Planetary Types.
Gary Lachman, author of the new Ouspensky biography, In Search of P.D. Ouspensky wrote an article on James Webb for the Fortean Times, which mentions Collin.
This book, like Collin's Theory of Celestial Influence and the books by his Teacher P.D.Ouspensky, startle by the profundity of insights stirring only in the deepest parts of human experience.
Collin addresses the phases of Man's Life: Conception, Birth, Childhood, Puberty, Maturity and Death - things we can barely ponder on the deep level revealed here - in a way that rearranges the conventional way of considering those elements of our Life which assault us so unexpectedly and with such finality.
The Circle of Life, from Conception to Death, inexorably grinds on, but what we make of our lives is preserved not only in memory (partially), but in Death, at the time of "Judgement", an interval as great as the duration of Man's entire life in "real time" as Collin defines it. And this informs the NEXT moment of conception.
Christian mystical writings, the Upanishads, Plato, The Tibetan Book of the Dead and other texts are consulted in Collin's interpretation and theory of these great mysteries. For in this moment, he hypothesizes, new possibilities open up, seen in a way that cannot be seen when attached to a body, even though (except in a few fortunate cases perhaps) rebirth is inevitable.
But then he addresses another Great Mystery. Is this rebirth IN TIME as our ordinary mind perceives it, or OUTSIDE of it? Are Death and Conception linked then?
And are we such prisoners of the capacities and tendencies we are born with that little change is possible? Are we doomed to enact the same reckless behavior eternally for which we continue to pay a price for our actions repeatedly, in life and after death, in a cycle of ETERNAL RECURRENCE?
Ultimately Collin's view is non-linear and not adapted to the rational "mechanistically oriented" Western intellect obviously, but hints at an understanding of ultimate truths for those who have vainly attempted to use conventional religious or philosophical approaches which have only led them to confusion and a longing for better answers.
An interesting footnote is the influence Ouspensky had on Collin. Especially his ideas of the higher and lower dimensions of Time and Space and especially Eternal Recurrence.
Ouspensky wrote a short novel early in his life reflecting his obsession with this concept: The Strange Life of Ivan Isokin.
In it the narrator of the novel gives an account of his life, which terminates with a meeting with a Guru type, who traumatically reveals to him that he has met with him before, had this same conversation and lived this very life before.
Men in all ages have known of transcendant truths and the higher states of consciousness which reveal them.
Our own dogmatic age insists on "scientific verification", as though the great mysteries and ultimate truths of Life and The Universe can be analyzed and understood by the rational mind.
Ironically this assumption is as absurd as "religious" ideas and beliefs taken on blind faith alone.
This book is a theory based on the author's intuitions and distillation of texts addressing these mysteries from cultures and times less dogmatic and materialistic than our own.
The conclusions reached and ideas suggested would meet with immediate resistance from the typical Western mechanistically oriented rationalist approach obviously.
However, as Hamlet said to his good friend Horatio: "There are more things on earth and under heaven than are dreamt of in your philosophy".