by Jay Michael Barrie
His range of interests and span of learning were seemingly unfathomable. William Sheldon wrote, "Considering the whole panorama of human life, historic, anthropologic and archeologic, Gerald Heard may well be the best informed man alive." And Aldous Huxley famously stated, "The Universe is a continuum; but our knowledge of it is departmentalized. Every learned Society is a pigeonhole, every University a columbarium. Gerald Heard is that rare being, a man who makes his mental home on the vacant spaces between the pigeonholes."
These words of Huxley summarize admirably two important aspects of Heard's unicity—his uncanny prescience in regard to the future of human affairs, made possible by an uncommonly open mind. Huxley further said that in an increasingly compartmentalized world where knowledge is locked up in leak-proof packages of "omolies" and "ologies," where communication between the many and various disciplines of the mind—not to speak of efforts to exchange and correlate new discoveries—is practically nonexistent, where scholars and scientists know "more and more about less and less," Gerald Heard was able to escape the dread trap of specialization because the range of his interests and the span of his knowledge were so wide. Almost as impressive was Heard's ability to retain information. Yet he was no mere collector of data, as are so many able men who are regarded as original thinkers.
What is the unique quality or state of his mind that makes it possible for such a man to see so clearly what lies ahead before others are aware of it? Perhaps Huxley’s remarks will furnish a clue. It was by avoiding the pigeonholes that Heard maintained an open mind—that is, a mind that was unable to be satisfied either with explanations that were simply apt for the moment or with final and irreversible conclusions that were not to be disturbed by new or contradictory facts. No new idea, theory, or apparent discovery was, for him, unworthy of consideration. One of his favorite sayings was that, "An educated man is one who can entertain himself, entertain a stranger, and entertain a new idea."
And always he kept before this open mind a cosmology—a philosophical frame of reference—in which, to keep it constantly up to date, every new bit of information must find a place or be filed in a "suspense account." Never was any new evidence rejected because it threatened to embarrass his cosmology. Perhaps years later another discovery would turn up which, when joined with one held in the suspense account, happily fit in and closed the gap. This was one of his greatest gifts and contributions and, incidentally, the mark of an original thinker—the ability to see a correlation where no one would have suspected it existed, simply because he had refused to ignore an anomaly that at the time appeared not to fit.
Heard's Philosophy of History
Born toward the end of the nineteenth century, Heard had anticipated, formulated, and stated properly many of today’s major problems before the twentieth century was thirty years old. Gerald Heard believed that there are two basics that must prevail if a society is to endure. The first is the relationship between cosmology and ethics. One’s cosmology, as Heard used the word, is a person’s philosophical worldview—the core beliefs that they espouse about the universe and themselves, and the frame of reference by which they interpret and understand life. Ontology concerns itself with the ultimate nature of existence.
|Henry FitzGerald Heard|
Painting by Glyn Philpot, before 1937
|Born||(1889-10-06)6 October 1889|
|Died||14 August 1971(1971-08-14) (aged 81)|
Santa Monica, California
|Other names||Gerald Heard|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
Henry FitzGerald Heard (6 October 1889 – 14 August 1971), commonly called Gerald Heard, was a British-born American historian, science writer, public lecturer, educator, and philosopher. He wrote many articles and over 35 books.
Heard was a guide and mentor to numerous well-known Americans, including Henry Luce and Clare Boothe Luce, and Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the 1950s and 1960s. His work was a forerunner of, and influence on, the consciousness development movement that has spread in the Western world since the 1960s.
The son of an Anglo-Irish clergyman, Heard was born in London. Heard studied history and theology at the University of Cambridge, graduating with honours in history. After working in other roles, he lectured from 1926 to 1929 for Oxford University's extramural studies programme. Heard took a strong interest in developments in the sciences. In 1929, he edited The Realist, a short-lived monthly journal of scientific humanism (its sponsors included H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, Julian Huxley, and Aldous Huxley). In 1927 Heard began lecturing for South Place Ethical Society. During this period he was Science Commentator for the BBC for five years.
As a young man, he worked for the Agricultural Cooperative Movement in Ireland. In the 1920s and early 1930s, he acted as the personal secretary of Sir Horace Plunkett, founder of the cooperative movement, who spent his last years at Weybridge, Surrey. Naomi Mitchison, who admired Plunkett and was a friend of Heard, wrote of that time: "H.P., as we all called him, was getting past his prime and often ill but struggling to go on with the work to which he was devoted. Gerald [Heard] who was shepherding him about fairly continually, apologized once for leaving a dinner party abruptly when H.P. was suddenly overwhelmed by exhaustion".
Horace Plunkett owned real estate in the U.S. states of Nebraska and Wyoming, and left some properties to Heard in his will.
Heard first embarked as a book author in 1924, but The Ascent of Humanity, published in 1929, marked his first foray into public acclaim as it received the British Academy's Hertz Prize. From 1930 to 1934 he served as a science and current-affairs commentator for the BBC. From 1932 to 1942 Heard was a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.
In 1931 Heard had initiated an informal research group to look into developing group-mindedness or group communications, which became known as The Engineers Study Group because several of its members were engineers who afterwards were involved in the early development of computers. Naomi Mitchison, who was a friend of Heard, also participated actively in this group.
After 1936 Heard broke with Mitchison over her outspoken support for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and her attempt, together with other members of the group, to run arms to Republican Spain. In his last letter to Mitchison, Heard expressed his sympathy for the victims of the war in Spain, but compared the taking of sides in a war to "The relatives of a patient suffering from a deadly disease believing that he is curable by a hedge doctor (...) I am convinced that the way civilization is going is fatal, and the usual remedies only inflame the disease".
At that time, Heard played a minor part in the development of the Peace Pledge Union. Heard became well known as an advocate for pacifism, arguing for the transformation of behaviour through meditation and "disciplined nonviolence". In 1937 he emigrated to the United States to give some lectures at Duke University. Heard was accompanied by Aldous Huxley, Huxley's wife Maria, and their son Matthew Huxley. In the US, Heard's main activities were writing, lecturing, and the occasional radio or TV appearance. He had formed an identity as an informed individual who recognised no intrinsic conflict among history, science, literature, and theology. Though he lectured at Duke, Heard turned down the offer of a post there, and traveled west to settle in California.
Heard was the first among a group of literati friends (several others of whom, including Christopher Isherwood, were also British) to discover Swami Prabhavananda and Vedanta. Heard became an initiate of Vedanta. Like that of his friend Aldous Huxley (another in this circle), the essence of Heard's mature outlook was that a human being can effectively pursue intentional evolution of consciousness. He maintained a regular discipline of meditation, along the lines of yoga, for many years. He took interest in parapsychology and was a member of the Society for Psychical Research.
Heard concluded that the impediment to be addressed was "the problem of letting in a free flow of comprehension beyond the everyday threshold of experience while keeping the mind clear." In 1942 he founded Trabuco College as a facility where comparative religion studies and practices could be pursued. It was essentially a cooperative training center for the spiritual life. Living as a freelance scholar, Heard had enjoyed security in America by way of what he’d inherited from Horace Plunkett as well as his own family. He used some of his inherited resources toward this most ambitious of projects. The idealistic experiment required land, and Heard bought 300 acres in Trabuco Canyon, in the Santa Ana Mountains.
Heard was the guiding light and a helpful resident sage, but by nature he was neither an organizer nor a manager. Felix Greene had filled these roles, but when Greene left the community and got married, the practical side of life of Trabuco College soon began to decay. Heard deeded the land and facilities to the Vedanta Society of Southern California, who still maintain the facility as a Ramakrishna monastery and retreat.
In 1954 Heard tried mescaline and, in the mid 1950s tried LSD. He felt that, used properly, these had strong potential to "enlarge Man's mind" by allowing a person to see beyond his ego.
In August 1956, Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson first took LSD—under Heard's guidance and with the officiating presence of Sidney Cohen, a psychiatrist then with the California Veterans Administration Hospital. According to Wilson, the session allowed him to re-experience a spontaneous spiritual experience he had had years before, which had enabled him to overcome his own alcoholism. In the late 1950s, Heard also worked with psychiatrist Cohen to introduce others to LSD, including John Huston and Steve Allen. With experience, Heard arrived at a judicious view of the value of psychedelics, since at their best the insights and ecstasies they facilitate are temporary states. Religion writer Don Lattin wrote that Heard's view was "LSD might provide an experience of the great mysteries, but it offered no instant answers."
Heard was also responsible for introducing the then unknown Huston Smith to Huxley. Smith became one of the pre-eminent religious studies scholars in the United States. His book The World's Religions is a classic in the field, has sold over two million copies and is considered a particularly useful introduction to comparative religion. The meeting with Huxley led eventually to Smith's connection to Timothy Leary.
Five Ages of Man
In 1963, what some consider to be Heard's magnum opus, a book titled The Five Ages of Man, was published. According to Heard, the prevalent developmental stage among humans in today's well-industrialized societies (especially in the West) should be regarded as the fourth: the "humanic stage" of the "total individual," who is mentally dominated, feeling him- or herself to be autonomous, separate from other persons. Heard writes (p. 226) this stage is characterised by "the basic humanic concept of a mankind that is completely self-seeking because it is completely individualized into separate physiques that can have direct knowledge of only their own private pain and pleasure, inferring but faintly the feelings of others. Such a race of ingenious animals, each able to see and to seek his own advantage, must be kept in combination with each other by appealing to their separate interests."
In modern industrial societies, a person, especially if educated, has the opportunity to begin entering the "first maturity" of the humanic "total individual" in his or her mid teens. However, according to Heard — based on his decades of studies, his intuition, and his many years of reflection — a fifth stage is in the process of emerging: a post-individual psychological phase of persons and therefore of culture. According to Heard, the second maturity can be one that lies beyond "personal success, economic mastery, and the psychophysical capacity to enjoy life" (p. 240)
Heard termed this phase "Leptoid Man" (from the Greek word lepsis: "to leap") because humans increasingly face the opportunity to "take a leap" into a considerably expanded consciousness, in which the various aspects of the psyche will be integrated, without any aspects being repressed or seeming foreign. A society that recognises this stage of development will honour and support individuals in a "second maturity" who wish to resolve their inner conflicts and dissolve their inner blockages and become the sages of the modern world. Further, instead of simply enjoying biological and psychological health, as Freud and other important psychiatric or psychological philosophers of the "total-individual" phase conceived, Leptoid man will not only have entered a meaningful "second maturity" recognised by his or her society, but can then become a human of developed spirituality, similar to the mystics of the past; and a person of wisdom.
But collectively and culturally we are still in the transitional phase, not really recognising an identity beyond the super-individualistic fourth, "humanic" phase. Heard's views were cautionary about developments in society that were not balanced, about inappropriate aims of our use of technological power. He wrote: "we are aware of our precarious imbalance: of our persistent and ever-increasing production of power and our inadequacy of purpose; of our critical analytic ability and our creative paucity; of our triumphantly efficient technical education and our ineffective, irrelevant education for values, for meaning, for the training of the will, the lifting of the heart, and the illumination of the mind."
Personal life and death
From 1926 Heard's life companion was Christopher Wood, who, thanks to an inheritance, was also Heard's financial supporter. The relationship lasted until Heard's death in 1971.
Christopher William Graham Wood was born on February 18, 1900, in Lambeth, Surrey, in a family descending from the Plantagenets. His mother died in childbirth, his father, Graham Wood, remarried soon after and died as well not much later. Wood became the heir to the grocery fortune of Petty, Wood, and Co., established in 1816: 101,556 pounds in 1905 (£2,766,085 in 2016 sterling) under the guardianship of his stepmother.
Wood attended University of Cambridge but did not complete his degree. Apparently he was not "model" student: on April 30, 1920, he was summoned for causing obstruction with a car at Market-hill.W.J.H. Sprott was a friend of Wood from this time. Christopher Isherwood described Wood as "the spoilt, wayward younger son, with his airplane, his musical boxes, his superbicycle and all his other dangerous or expensive amusements and toys."E.M. Forster did not like him and described him as "that shit."
Wood met Gerald Heard in the mid-1920s and started a relationship that would last till Heard's death. According to William H. Forthman, "Gerald was very attached to Chris. They were a real couple. [...] Before coming to California, Gerald had become celibate. Chris had a series of boyfriends. Some of these young men were not very reputable, but Gerald still had this great affection for Christopher. It was like having a relative you love but are always trying to reform". Heard described Wood in a 1926 letter to Naomi Mitchison: "[he] has nothing to do save play—piano, etc: lacking (through parental foresight in accumulating and then dying) economic urge, wavy hair, 26 and somehow appealing". In 1927, Heard moved in with Wood at 1A Wilton Street, Belgravia.
In 1929, Wood and Heard moved to 28 Portman Square, West End, a modern flat overlooking the roof garden of Selfridges department store. According to Falby, "Wood looked after Heard's material needs, and his inheritance allowed Heard a better lifestyle than he could have achieved on his own." According to John Roger Barrie, "Heard embraced celibacy in 1934, when he began to practice meditation and ended his sexual relationship with Christopher Wood. Heard maintained unbroken celibacy throughout the remainder of his life. [...] His relationship henceforth with Wood was platonic." On April 7, 1937, Wood and Heard moved to the United States travelling in the same ocean liner as Aldous Huxley, his wife Maria Nys and their son Matthew. Wood rented an house at Laurel Canyon and Heard lived in a cottage behind it, 8766 Arlene Terrace.
Toward the end of his life, Heard was given a bit of financial assistance by Henry Luce and Clare Booth Luce. Heard died on 14 August 1971 at his home in Santa Monica, California, of the effects of several earlier strokes he had, beginning in 1966.
Christopher Wood died in 1976.
Heard wrote fiction under the name H.F. Heard. This included three detective novels about Mr. Mycroft (implied to be Sherlock Holmes after his retirement). Mr. Mycroft and his friend, Mr. Silchester, appeared in three novels: A Taste for Honey, Reply Paid and The Notched Hairpin.The Great Fog and Other Weird Tales and The Lost Cavern and Other Tales of the Fantastic are collections of stories that include both science fiction and ghost stories. Hugh Lamb has described The Great Fog and The Lost Cavern as "two splendid books of short stories".The Black Fox is an occult thriller featuring black magic.Doppelgangers is a dystopian novel, influenced by Huxley's Brave New World, set after the "Psychological Revolution."Anthony Boucher described Doppelgangers as "in style and imagination, the most exciting and provocative piece of science fiction since the heyday of M. P. Shiel."
- 1924 Narcissus: An Anatomy of Clothes
- 1929 The Ascent of Humanity
- 1931 The Emergence of Man
- 1931 Social Substance of Religion: An Essay of the Evolution of Religion
- 1932 This Surprising World: A Journalist Looks at Science
- 1934 These Hurrying Years: An Historical Outline 1900–1933
- 1935 Science in the Making
- 1935 The Source of Civilization
- 1936 The Significance of the New Pacifism (Published in The New Pacifism)
- 1936 Exploring the Stratosphere
- 1937 The Third Morality
- 1937 Science Front, 1936
- 1939 Pain, Sex and Time: A New Outlook on Evolution and the Future of Man
- 1940 The Creed of Christ: An Interpretation of the Lord's Prayer
- 1941-1942 Training for the Life of the Spirit
- 1941 The Code of Christ: An Interpretation of the Beatitudes
- 1941 Man The Master
- 1942 A Dialogue in the Desert
- 1944 The Recollection
- 1944 A Preface to Prayer
- 1945 The Gospel According to Gamaliel
- 1946 The Eternal Gospel
- 1948 Is God Evident?: An Essay Toward a Natural Theology
- 1949 Prayers and Meditations: A Monthly Cycle Arranged for Daily Use (edited by Gerald Heard)
- 1950 Is God in History?: An Inquiry into Human and Prehuman History in Terms of the Doctrine of Creation, Fall, and Redemption
- 1950 Morals Since 1900
- 1950 Is Another World Watching?: The Riddle of the Flying Saucers
- 1952 Gabriel and the Creatures (UK edition entitled Wishing Well)
- 1955 The Human Venture
- 1959 Training For a Life of Growth
- 1964 The Five Ages of Man: The Psychology of Human History
Fiction (published under H.F. Heard)
- 1941 A Taste for Honey
- 1942 Murder by Reflection
- 1942 Reply Paid: A Mystery
- 1944 The Great Fog and Other Weird Tales
- 1947 Doppelgangers: An Episode of the Fourth, The Psychological, Revolution
- 1947 The President of the United States, Detective
- 1948 The Lost Cavern and Other Tales of the Fantastic
- 1949 The Notched Hairpin: A Mycroft Mystery
- 1950 The Black Fox: A Novel of the Seventies
- ^Official Website – Christened as Henry Fitz Gerald Heard
- ^ abcCharles Chatfield, Ruzanna Iliukhina Peace/Mir: An Anthology of Historic Alternatives to War. Syracuse University Press, 1994. ISBN 0815626010, (pp. 231, 363).
- ^Naomi Mitchison, "You may well ask", London, 1979, Part II, Chap. 12.
- ^ abcdLattin, Don 2012 Distilled Spirits. Berkeley:University of California Press, p. 46.
- ^Quoted in Naomi Mitchison, op. cit. Chap. 12 of Mitchison's book, entitled A Kind of Prophet, is devoted to Heard.
- ^Kripnal, Jeffrey John; Shuck, Glenn W. (2005). On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture. Indiana University Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-253-34556-1
- ^Heard, Gerald "Can This Drug Enlarge Man's Mind?" in Psychedelic Review Issue Number 1, Summer 1963, pp. 8. Millbrook, NY:International Federation for Internal Freedom.
- ^ abErik Davis, Michael Rauner, The Visionary State: A Journey Through California's Spiritual Landscape. Chronicle Books, 2006, ISBN 0811848353 (p. 154).
- ^Heard, Gerald (1963). The Five Ages of Man. New York: The Julian Press. ASIN B000M66AVK.
- ^Heard, Gerald (1963). The Five Ages of Man. New York: The Julian Press. p. 91.
- ^ abcdeBetween the Pigeonholes: Gerald Heard, 1889-1971 By Alison Falby, Cambridge Scholars Publishing
- ^Howard, Joseph Jackson; Crisp, Frederick Arthur (1902). Visitation of England and Wales. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- ^"Over 200 years of innovation". pettywood. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- ^Cambridge Daily News Cambridgeshire, England, 30 Apr 1920
- ^Isherwood 1997, p. 21
- ^ abcLattin, Don (2012). Distilled Spirits: Getting High, Then Sober, with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk. University of California Press. p. 46. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- ^ abWilliam L. DeAndrea (editor).Encyclopedia Mysteriosa, MacMillan, 1994, ISBN 0-02-861678-2 (p. 159)
- ^Brian Stableford, "The Short fiction of Heard" in Frank N. Magill, ed. Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol 3. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem Press, Inc., 1983. ISBN 0-89356-450-8 (pp. 1544–1546).
- ^ abHugh Lamb, "Heard, H.F." in Jack Sullivan (ed) (1986) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural, Viking Press, 1986, ISBN 0-670-80902-0 (p. 199).
- ^Roslynn D. Haynes, From Faust to Strangelove: representations of the scientist in Western Literature Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994 ISBN 0801849837 (p.206).
- ^Francis M. Nevins, (editor), The Anthony Boucher Chronicles. Ramble House. ISBN 1605430021 (pp. 416–17).