The Religion of the Will
Theosophical Quarterly, January, April, July, October, 1908;
January, April, July, October, 1909 & January, 1910.
THE WILL IN THE BODY.
I. THE SEARCH FOR FOOD.
What is the Will? Lay your book down for a moment on the table, and consider. You see the book lying before you. Now stretch forth your hand, close your fingers on the book, and lift it. Let your conscious thought follow every stage of your act. Feel for a moment the effort of raising your hand, stretching it out, closing your fingers, lifting your book. Now you have it once more open in your hands. And you know more about the Will than a thousand treatises could teach you. You really know what the Will is, at the moment you are exerting it, and not when you are quiescently thinking about it.
Now see where this simple experience will take you. You have just verified the fact that you can really exert your will; that you can stretch your hand out and lift the book from the table. You can exert your will just as easily in a thousand other ways. For instance, you can rise, stretch yourself, and walk round the table, returning to your seat. Try it, again letting your conscious thought dwell on each stage of effort and motion, and you will once more realize a miracle. Simple as it is to walk round the table, simple as it is to lift your book, time was when you could do neither. We grown folk do not like to dwell on the fact that we were babies not so long ago. We are too used to these mature and wise personalities of ours, and have come to think them permanent. Yet babies we were. And in those days, when we had funny little pudgy fists, with small pink fingers, the lifting of this book would have been not only a miracle, but a miracle wholly beyond our powers.
When we pass similar small mortals in their perambulators, we are inclined either to patronize them, or to be disdainful and superior. We ought really to reverence them as embodiments of faith. For faith is the driving power at that age, more than at any other; not because we grown up folk do not need faith, but because, needing it boundlessly, we lack it. But we had faith, and full faith, in our baby days. Though those pudgy little fists of ours, which we hardly like to think of, now we are big, could not pick up a book from the table, they were always trying to. We had a firm faith that it was in us to do this, and a great deal more; and we kept straining and stretching those small pink hands, winding away ceaselessly with our fingers, opening and closing, grasping and loosening, until at last we gained some grip, and could lay hold on things. And then, if there was a conscious spark of immortality in us, we tried to grasp the sun and moon.
We had implicit faith in the power of our wills in those days, and through that faith we finally developed our wills, and gain practical use of our hands. The faith came first; the practical power grew out of it. It was just the same with another wonderful power. We came to the use of our voices through faith put into exercise. And just as we kept our fingers busily stirring till we could grasp with them, so we played with our voices, trying all kinds of cooing notes, or cries of the heart, until we gained a fair command. Then, once we had got the power under some control, we took to imitating the sounds we heard around us; the words queer people said; the voices of birds and beasts. But we had gained a secure power on our own accounts, before we tried to imitate our big neighbors.
So with that other miracle, our walking round the table. We crept before we walked, and we squirmed before we crept. But we had implicit faith in our squirming power from the outset. And we kept at it unceasingly till we could crawl, then walk, then run. A thousand falls and bumps never daunted us, for our faith was firm. Then, if we were fortunate, some wise person taught us that not less essential use of the will, involved in sitting quiet and making stillness rule over the restless motions of hands and feet and body.
But there was something that came earlier than the use of hands and feet, or the modulated exercise of voice. There was the very serious matter of food. And we set about it seriously, with the grim faith so serious a matter demands; and, unlike Osric in Hamlet, without philosophizing. How far we were conscious of it is another matter, but we set to work with a confident faith beyond all praise, a faith the more admirable, because it came before all experience. It was the most miraculous adventure for us, almost as miraculous as being born, and we undertook it with high hope and confident belief.
That is about as far as we can trace the matter in this direction, and we have really learned little more than we knew at first. When we stretched out a hand, and lifted the book from the table, we already experienced the power of will, and the faith, the confident belief that we could exercise the will, which is the driving-power in the child. Our conscious use of will, and our confident belief, before each act, that we can exercise our wills, are all we really know of the matter, and we really know these only while we are actually using them. The thing is an absolute mystery and miracle, yet a miracle which perpetually occurs. You may analyze a thousand times, according to all kinds of tricks, physical, metaphysical, psychological, but the more you analyze, the less you know. You may even succeed in persuading yourself that you do not know at all.
The remedy is action. Actually put your will in force; rise and lift your book, and, while you are doing it, you are in possession of real knowledge. You know what Will really is. So dwell on that knowledge and make it a secure possession, not to be clouded by ever so much analysis.
But, it will be said, the matter is simple. The will you exercise is but the development of the will in the babe. And that comes by inheritance, from a million ancestors, human and other. This is one of those explanations which have the air of explaining, yet which really explain nothing. When we have made it, and pushed the mystery off a million generations, we really know much less than we did at the outset, while we were in the act of lifting the book. It is as some one has said. A man is a mystery, in action like an angel; and when confronted with him, face to face at close quarters, we know him to be a mystery. But let us push him back, mile after mile, till he is a mere dot on the rim of the sky. The mystery has dwindled to a speck, but is it the less a mystery, because we have pushed it away? Might we not have had a better chance of solving that mysterious man if, instead of pushing the mystery back, we had drawn it nearer, looking at home, within our own hearts, for the word of the enigma, and knowing him as of like nature with ourselves? We should then have founded ourselves on something we really knew. So with the Will. We really know what Will is, not when we push it back to the Moneron, but when we are in act of using it in ourselves. The Will is the Will; and each one of us knows perfectly well what it is, while we are using it.
But let us, for argument’s sake, push back the mystery of the will, till it dwells in a mere speck on the rim of the horizon; and let us see if we can learn anything. Take the moneron, that speck of animate jelly, a life complete in a single cell, spinning and whirling through the ocean, in the ceaseless movement of an endless life. If you watch one of these minute jelly-specks, almost on the horizon of vision, you will see in it the same power of action, the same cheerful confidence in its power to act, that we admired in the baby; just as defined, and no whit less a mystery. A single cell of life cannot do much, but the little it can do, it does with vigor and firm faith. You see it steering itself about ceaselessly, coming close to hardly visible specks of food, wrapping itself upon them, and absorbing them into itself. If you put a little coloring matter in the water, you may trace it right into the transparent body of the little creature, till it is actually built into its structure.
The driving power in that spinning speck of jelly is exactly the same as the driving power in the baby moving with firm faith to its first drink of milk. There is, in both, the power to move, with the antecedent faith that movement is possible, and the further faith that there is an outward something to move to. So that now we have pushed our mystery back to the very beginning of physical evolution, it remains just as much a mystery as before.
When we thus go back to the physical beginnings of things, it is hard to draw the line between animal and vegetable. But for our purpose this does not matter, nor are we concerned to show that vegetables have neither will nor consciousness. They must, indeed, have both, or the equivalent of both. Let us again go back to the cell. Take an experiment we all have made, though it is something better than an experiment: a geranium cutting. We pick a plump green branch, cut it off obliquely through the joint, leaving a smooth green oval section; then we trim off superfluous leaves and buds, so as not to divert the life, and then we set the cutting in good damp soil. After a few days, if we are curious, we may make investigations, and we shall find one of those miracles by which we are encompassed. From the erstwhile smooth green oval, little white rootlets have sprouted forth, little pearl-strings of single cells, and these are now busy drawing nutriment into the body of the new plant. They are just the same sort of cells that formed the plump green stem, with the slightest modification to fit them for their new work.
At the present moment, there is not a speck of red anywhere about the little new plant, even if we cut and mutilate in our search for it. Yet in due time some of those once green cells will become red, building up the bright mystery of the flower. Does anyone know how this takes place, and through what occult law? No one knows any more of it than you do, or can tell you by what hidden power this wonderful thing has come to pass. We may push a little toward an understanding of the how, but the why remains as much a secret as ever. We are still face to face with the questions: how did the cells of the green oval section know that a new work was required of them? How did they come to set about that work? How, unless they have both consciousness and will, or something very like these?
Here is another experience that greatly appealed to me. A few years ago, I had a nursery for little trees, and very amenable babies they proved. I found the small seedlings, two or three inches high, in the woods, each one the robust survivor of many seeds that had failed. There were little oaks, beeches, horse-chestnuts, silver firs, maples and some others. And one learned that, in their babyhood, trees have wonderfully symmetrical forms, almost as regular as crystals. Look at a baby chestnut, or a baby maple from immediately above, and you will see how the branchlets are set directly opposite each other, the small leaves perfectly corresponding. And there is a different symmetry for every kind of tree. Take the silver fir, for example. Looked at from above, it is a green, six-pointed star, the angles as perfectly regular as in a six-pointed snow-crystal. And from the center of the star rises a seventh branchlet, quite upright, the leading shoot of the tree. In a well-grown baby fir, these branchlets are about as long as your finger.
At the end of each of the six star-point branches you will find three little brown buds. When spring comes, each of these buds will push out and become a new branchlet, so that each little finger branch is now a green trident. And the leading shoot, which had a crown of seven buds—six set star-fashion, and one above—becomes the center of a new six-pointed star, with a new leading shoot. And in the autumn of the second year, all the fir-needles of the first year will grow orange, and then brown, and finally fall off. For evergreens lose their leaves too, only the leaves of one year overlap into the next.
Now for the consciousness and will. In my double row of little silver-firs, it happened occasionally that the leading shoot of one of them got cut or broken off, perhaps bitten by insects, perhaps idly plucked by some passing human creature. What was the tree to do now? How could it get on in the world, now its leading shoot was gone? And indeed how was it to know that anything untoward had happened? How it knew, I know not, but know it certainly did. For within a few days one could note that, among the six branchlets that radiated from the base of the leading shoot—the six star-points—the longest and most robust had begun to bend its end upward; and day after day this went on, until it pointed straight up toward the sky, making itself a perfectly effective leading shoot. And what is even more wonderful, while formerly it had only three buds at its tip, it will now put forth four more, so that the young tree can go on with all advantages, ready to form a new six-pointed star of branchlets, with a new leading shoot, when the spring comes round again. And sometimes when the first leading shoot is lost, as I have described, there are two fairly equal competitors for its place among the six star-point branches. In that case, both turn their points upward, and gradually bend themselves up skywards. And in time, the fir tree will have two upright stems, instead of one. We have all seen those twin-stemmed firs in the woods, but we have not always realized what a romance of competing twin-brothers stands there revealed.
So we are confronted with the questions: how did the silver fir baby learn that its leading shoot was gone? And how did it know what to do about it? How, unless it has both consciousness and will, though not in exactly our sense? Plants, indeed, are like babies in many ways, and almost as restless. And on the other hand, as we saw, they grow very much as crystals do; so that we have no warrant for denying consciousness and will to the diamond and the emerald. Perhaps they also in their motions like an angel sing, still chairing to the young-eyed cherubim.
But when I speak of the will in the body, I mean rather that quite defined something which we experience, when we stretch forth a hand and lift a book, or when we rise, stretch ourselves, and walk round the table. And to that kind of will, that perfectly defined and familiar miracle, we shall now turn our attention.
The driving power of the will, in this defined sense, is everywhere evident through the animal world, and especially in those higher animals which more closely resemble ourselves in bodily form. Indeed, all the vertebrates, and especially the mammalian vertebrates, have exactly the same type of skeleton as we have, though modified this way or that. The human skeleton seems to be the norm, from which these other skeletons of creatures that run on all fours seem to be deflected in one direction or another. But in the skeleton the unity of plan is manifest; and the same thing is true of the organs.
So we may for the present take all these animals together, and consider them as a whole. They are all impelled by a like driving-power, and they are impelled by it all their lives. This driving-power is twofold. For the present, we shall consider only that branch of it which impels the search for food, leaving the other branch for future study.
We saw the impulse to seek food already at work in the baby, which sets confidently to work, impelled by firm faith, a faith that antecedes all experience. The baby is firmly confident in its power to seek food, and equally confident that there is food to be sought. But for that effective faith, it would die. Each one of us had just that effective faith before our first experience, else none of us had lived to tell the tale. And if we consider the one-celled moneron to be the earliest form of life, we must believe that the same driving-power, incited by the same faith, was present in it; otherwise life would have come to a stop there and then.
You can see the same driving-power all through the manifold, beautiful animal world today. Take a heard of cattle in a meadow. You see them all grazing there busily, headed in a single direction; cropping tuft after tuft of juicy grass, and then taking a step forward; then again cropping the grass, and again stepping forward. And if you listen, you can hear the rhythmically musical cropping of those blameless ruminants, as they march softly forward on the most important business in the world. If you note their movements for a whole day, as they spread out in a line or in irregular groups, or as they lie meditative, chewing the cud, and whisking off impertinent flies with their tails, you will find that, by the evening, they have worked over nearly the whole field, moved forward from one end to the other by the impulse of the search for food.
Or take the flock of crows in the next field. Go as close as their alert sentinels posted in the trees will let you; and you will see that in their black serried rows they are working over the ploughed land as regularly, as thoroughly, as tirelessly as the cattle, seeking their food under a steady impelling force. And from day to day the rooks, being masters of their own movements, change the field of their activities, until they have systematically scoured the whole country round their ancestral rookery among the tree-tops.
It is just the same thing in wilder nature, with a herd of deer on the African veldt, or a flock of white egrets in the Indian rice-lands. The same steady, methodical movement; the same systematic covering of large spaces of country, under the steady impulsion of the search for food. And if we could imagine any individual animal multiplied endlessly, we may well believe that the host of him, so to say, would in time cover the whole surface of the earth, and occupy the entire land space, in the ceaseless, restless, truceless business of food-seeking. That is where the driving-power of the will would lead him; for we must remember that each step of the way, each bite of food, would represent a conscious effort of will, just such an effort as we make when we stretch out a hand to grasp a book, or when we rise and walk round the table.
And those who have followed the fascinating study of the distribution of plants and animals know that very many living things have thus practically taken possession of the whole globe, or all of it that was accessible to their very considerable means of locomotion. Take the foxes, for example. You can find them barking at the moon on tropical plains; you can find them slipping over polar ice, under the gleam of the aurora. And the bears are their companions in both, from the equatorial line on the Malay peninsula to still unmapped headlands in the white north. Cattle too are everywhere. Under the polar sky, musk oxen live their cheerful, meditative days, not less pleased with life than the bare buffaloes of some Javan marsh. East and west they range; and north and south. The impulse is imperative, incessant. Every form, if given free scope, would occupy the whole world, driven ceaselessly forward under the impulse of that single power.
And those who have traced back the parentage of these bears and foxes, these musk oxen and buffaloes, and all their fellows, tell us that this same imperious impulse was the driving-power from the beginning; that the pressure of the search for food drove them both outwards and upwards; from land to land, from stage to stage of animate life.
I know no more touching example of that ceaseless driving-power than the history of the mole, which, it seems, started from some Eastern, perhaps Asian land, and has gradually been burrowing underground, along the path of empire. It reached the north of France, still by devious subways, before the Straits of Dover had stretched their blue line from sea to sea; and, digging under the carpet of the chalk hills, found its way to the future England. Then from south to north, from Kent to wales, it worked its way, but reached the coast too late. The Irish sea was already formed, and the mole never arrived in the Isle of Saints. But look how much he had accomplished already, by little and little, though never opening his eyes to the sunlight. Around mountain-chains and across rivers he moved, resistless in his helplessness; crossing the rivers one knows not how, or, perhaps, going around them; and now covering an immense territory to the very shore of the ocean. There, pensive and prone, he may ask, like Walt Whitman looking west from California’s shores: “Where is what I sought so long ago?—and why is it yet unfound?”
The driving-power of the will, therefore, expressing itself in the search for food, has spread all creatures all over the earth. The search for food is the great business of life for them all, and is their business all their lives. It is a pressure that never relaxes, and, by its very persistence, has worked many miracles. That same pressure of the will, consciously exerted in the search for food, has not only carried all these creatures to the uttermost parts of the earth; it has carried them through the far longer journey, up from the spinning jelly-speck of the moneran, to the perfect organic form, with its fine beauty, its vigor, its grace, its majesty. If we except man, and the exception is only a partial one, the exertion of the will in the search for food has given the direction to the development of every member, every organ, every muscle, every nerve, throughout the animate world. The whole wonderful growth is due to the steady pressure of that single force, through ages of ages. And when we see this quite miraculous development, this marvelous distribution, we are fain to bow in reverence to divine Hunger, which through long ages has wrought endless creative wonders.
Whether it be the artisan who, in the still darkling hours, rises from hard couch to meet the shrilling of the factory whistle, or the gazelle, scampering forth in the Indian morning twilight, or the wolf, under some ledge of rock, stretching himself and going forth at moonrise, there is always a definite effort, a sacrifice of comfort, of cosy lethargy. There is the impulse to awake from sleep into action, from death into life. And I think that this same impulse, which we ourselves feel and obey with the coming of each new morn, is the power that stirred the worlds into being, in the far-off dawn of time. In every waking and going forth after food, there is the necessity of sacrifice, there is the sacrifice, and, in due time, there is the reward of sacrifice, extended life. So we may well say, with the venerable Indian hymn: “The Lord of beings put forth beings accompanied by sacrifice.”
We spoke of man as a partial exception. But even among mankind the search for food is still a universal business. It keeps us all whole and sane and vigorous. And even the most easeful and laziest must do their own eating still, and so come within the scope of the universal law. So we have here our first great driving-power, which works in every case, through a conscious effort, a conscious exertion of the will; just such an effort of the will as we must make, to take our book from the table; to rise and walk across the room. While exerting the will, in any such way as this, we really know, by direct experience, what the will is; and from this sound foundation of real knowledge we may safely build upward and outward, to some kind of conception of the whole.
Individuals may come to no common understanding, each living his own life, using his own individual will. But there is that in the individuals which does come to an understanding. The will, consciously possessed and used by each one, rests on a common force, and works to a general end. The moles have never concerted together, nor come to an agreement; yet their work, the work of countless numbers through countless years, is well concerted and held together. It forms a unity, and is visible to us as a unity, and we can divine the single force working through the consciously exerted wills of a wilderness of moles. So with all animate beings. We can see numberless acts of will, each perfect and spontaneous in itself, yet all working to a common miraculous end: the perfect development and distribution of conscious animate life. One may say that, under this driving power of the will in the body, which each one of us ceaselessly uses, every creature is impelled to conquer the whole world and possess it. Every creature is impelled to gain the mastery over space.
And we can see, in our own experience, and in every part of it, that behind this conscious exertion of the will there are two principles: there is the confident faith that effort can be made; and there is the confident faith that effort will bear fruit, that there is something without us, which will respond to effort and repay effort. Within, we touch the will. Without, we touch the beautiful world, upheld by the miraculous web of natural forces, upon which our wills can so marvelously work. There is our great twofold truth; the basis, not so much of philosophy, as of our life itself.
THE WILL IN THE BODY.
II. CONTINUITY OF LIFE.
Hunger, the search for food, sends the creatures roaming forth through the world. Hunger has driven them forward through form after form to every perfection of development.
It is still the hunger for the highest that is the lever and spur of all spiritual life. But let us consider for awhile the mere hunger of the body. That hunger arises because tissue is used up, and the loss must be made good. So the sense of something lacking drives the creature forth. Of course there might well be a being in which there is little or no waste of tissue; a rock, for example, which, in its fine stability and peace, is free from all restlessness and need. But to get that freedom, some of the essentials of life must be foregone; and if these essentials of life are present there will be movement, there will be change, there will be loss, and so there must be the repair of loss.
Of course there might well be a creature, a form of life, in which the loss could be exactly replaced by new tissues built up from food. And such a creature would be immortal. In truth, this immortal, self-repairing creature is the earliest form of life, and at one time, seemingly, was the only form of life. Immortality is the normal and original condition of life. Death is the later and secondary condition. The early life-forms, the creatures of a single cell of colorless jelly, knew no death, unless by accident. They lived forever; and in fact it may be said that the original unicellular creatures which were living a billion years ago, are living still. They have been wearing and repairing, wearing and repairing, eternally; and there is no reason why this condition of things should not go on forever; no reason, that is, in the nature of these unicellular organisms.
The law of life for these little immortals is very wonderful. Though they have no death, yet in a certain sense they have birth. But the peculiarity of the thing is, that you cannot tell which is the parent and which the child. For the plan works thus: the tiny jelly-speck in its ceaseless forward movement through the water, gathers ever new food, new building stuff, to repair the waste in its pliable little body. And the gain seems to go faster than the loss, through some law as miraculous as all else in life. So after awhile the little creature is twice as large as before, and can divide into two like creature, each in every way as good as the first. The little round creatures divides by gradually assuming a dumb-bell form, and then the dumb-bell comes apart, and the two new creatures start each on its own way, to go through a like process everlastingly. Now it is impossible to say that, of the two new creatures, one is more original than the other; or that one is parent, and the other child. Both are the same age; they are twins. So that, after this dividing process has gone on for a thousand generations, each one of the resultant myriads on myriads of beings is, in a certain sense, the original creature; has in him something of the original fund of substance to which he has simply been adding, with wise thrift and husbandry. Hence every one of these beings goes back to the beginning, and is immortal.
Immortality is thus the original law and condition of life; and it is one of the superb thoughts of philosophy that death, so far from being an original disability and doom, has really been developed by life, for life’s ends. Death is a means for the greater perfecting of life. For it is clear that the original process of endless division of a one-celled being has no great possibilities. That kind of multiplication would be quite useless later on. If one pulled a man apart, or a horse, the halves would not be good for much, even though we have most of our parts in pairs, and might conceivably make up shortage, as the lobster replaces a lost claw. But after a thousand pullings apart, one would not be good for much. So it is infinitely better to make a new start every little while, with a brand new creature, perfect in every detail, and not mutilated by wear and tear. And there is the added gain, that this new creature, under the driving power of the miraculous law of evolution, is quite likely to be an improvement on what went before. So death and rebirth are necessary, if we would have any extended development of life, any rise from lower to ever higher forms.
Thus life brought death to aid in the everlasting work. And death has as its companion rebirth, the birth of a new creature, to take the place of that which passes away. In some cases, as in some butterflies, death and birth are so closely linked, that, as soon as the parent has produced the eggs for the new generation, it is at once enfolded by death. It has lived to produce new being; having done so, it dies.
There are many ways in which this replacing takes place. The ruling principle, once we get away from the primal halving process, seems to be, to keep the race as rich as possible by continual remixing of all its elements. And this mixing takes place through the union of pairs. One could hardly say, antecedently, that the union of two is a more probable source of new life than the union of three, or five, or seven, or any other number; but such is the general rule, though there are striking exceptions; as among the bees, where many males unite with one queen. But the pair seems the normal mode, just as dividing into halves seems to be normal, rather than into thirds or quarters.
In early forms of life, marriage is a much older institution than direct sex union. By marriage, I mean the association of a pair, a male and female, in the common interest and common activity of rearing young. Among the fishes, for example, the salmon, the male comes up stream first, and forms a kind of nest in the shallows, where pebbles and sand offer tempting building lots; then comes the pairing, for association and mutual help in the care of young. Then the eggs are deposited by the female in the nest, and later the fertilizing element is added by the male. So that pairing for the rearing of young is an older institution than direct sex union. And among the sticklebacks, for instance, this domestic economy reaches high developments, since very elaborate and charming little house-nests are built by the males for their little wives, and a good deal of devotion and care is shown, though there is, of course, no direct sex union at all. Association of the pair for mutual help is the older institution; direct sex union is the younger.
Let us skip several stages of life, such as that of the virtuous toad, who winds the eggs of the family about his body for safety, until they are hatched out, and let us come on to those forms of life which are more like our own, such as the higher mammals, the creatures which feed their young on milk. Here we find certain marked principles governing marriage, certain wonderful laws ruling the continuation of race.
Broadly speaking, the entire order of mammalian animals living under natural conditions are sexual only for a few weeks in the year. During the rest of the year they are to all intents and purposes sexless; and in a great many cases the sexes live apart, and see practically nothing of each other except for a few weeks in spring time. The reason why spring is the favorite breeding time seems to be that, during the months when all nature is bursting forth into new life after the sleep and silence of winter, every form of food is more abundant, so that the problem of feeding a family is then most easily solved. If the young are brought into life in the middle of spring, both they and their parents are given the best chance; the search for food, inevitable and ceaseless, then sits lightly on them, and prosperity and well-being are fairly within reach.
Then, as the formation of the young animal before birth takes some time, some months even, in the higher forms, the pairing time must be set back an equal number of months, and the pairing must take place at that interval before the fat months of spring, or whatever season brings the best supply of food for that creature. These are the general principles; wherever they are worked out in detail, they are found to work in the same marvelous way as everything else in the perpetual miracle of life.
The seals are a good illustration, for example the fur-seals of the North Pacific. For a short time each year, they come ashore in vast multitudes, to breed, gathering along the strands of the Pribylov islands for miles and miles, a huge prostrate army. The islands are wrapt in chill and mantling fogs, and hid in these the seals have comparative safety from enemies. There their young are brought forth; there the future young are engendered; and then, after the white-furred little baby seals have shed their first coats, and, most unwillingly, have been taught to swim, the whole vast herds put off to sea again, and roam throughout the boundless Pacific wastes. For the next ten months, as far as union is concerned, they are sexless. They forget about sex completely, and each individual busies himself or herself with the search for food.
This is simply the type of what is general throughout the higher forms of animals life. And the great majority of animals are superior to the seals in one important particular. For the seals are polygamous, while as we ascend higher in life, monogamy becomes more and more the rule. Thus all the martial animals, lions, tigers, wolves, bears, are monogamous; as are nine-tenths of the birds and all the higher monkeys and apes, our kindred. Not only is this so, but a very large proportion of these higher creatures are mated for life, and are full of the most real and ardent fidelity. There seems to be a general feeling, since Darwin’s day, that the gorilla and the orang-outan are discreditable kin, poor relations whom it is best to forget. On the contrary, we are a discredit to them.
Take the ordinary housekeeping of the higher apes. The father, with careful and far-sighted industry, builds a snug home among the branches of some lofty Bornean tree, and there, after due courtship, esconces his wife, and, in due time, their offspring. Then, with touching loyalty, he himself descends the tree and sleeps on the ground, ready to fight any foe who may try to climb up and molest his family. And these higher apes are strictly monogamous, and are mated for life. Their mutual devotion is more than human. There are brutes who consider themselves the superiors of these blameless tree-folk, and who go out to their leafy homes and shoot them in the interest of science; and they tell us that, when they have shot the husband of such a pair, the wife is distracted, and lingers about heart-broken, so that it is quite easy to kill her too. And when they have killed the wife of such a couple, her mate will fight to the death to avenge her. There is something divine in the animals; and such stories as these remind us that there is something more than the animal in man, there is something devilish.
This fidelity among animals is well known to most races of mankind. There is a tale of a polygamous Sinhalese, who, being converted, was told that he must restrict his conjugal arrangements. “What?” he cried, with indignation, “only one wife, for a lifetime? Just like the Wanderoo monkeys!” And the Chinese, in their marriage ceremony, pay special tribute to the goose, which is by nature strictly monogamous, and mates for a whole lifetime. Birds, indeed, furnish examples of the greatest beauty in marital things. Nine-tenths of all the species of birds the world over are monogamous, and in very many cases it is known that they mate for life. With pigeons, this is notably the case; so that, once a pair of pigeons are mated, they may be added to an aviary containing many other pairs, without the least fear of the formation of other unions, and without any likelihood of cross-breeding. And the little parakeets we call love-birds really merit their name. When either the husband or the wife of such a little couple dies, the other will droop and fade, and genuinely die of love. Such lessons does Nature offer to the higher animals.
To sum up: By far the greater number of animals, and all the more important forms, including those which are nearest ourselves, come under certain broad and clear principles with regard to sex, to reproduction, to the continuation of the race to which they belong. These principles may be stated as follows:
The first principle is sacrifice. To take the very earliest form, the one-celled organism; reproduction means literally a tearing in halves of the living body, a loss of the half of life. It is true that this is later made up for; but that is true of all sacrifices, yet it does not make the sacrifice the less real. Sacrifice rules over reproduction through all later stages. Every animal, during the period when the young are being nurtured, is peculiarly vulnerable, peculiarly open to attack from its enemies. In general there is great loss of life at this very period and for this cause, and the great majority of animal parents will fight to the death for their offspring. We may go even behind that, and say that the very gestation, the very engendering of the young, in every case represents a definite loss of a part of life, and so a definite sacrifice.
The second principle is faith. This sacrifice is made in obedience to an implicit faith, an inherent certainty, an immediately acting force, which commands instant obedience, and which, in every case, compels the individual to transcend itself in the interest of others, in the interest of the coming generation, in the interest of the continuance of the race. We saw that there is a quite definite sacrifice in the search for food; the wolf must shake himself and rise from his lair; the rooks must flap their wings and scatter abroad, with much cawing, from the rookery; the laborer must rise from his well-warmed bed and struggle through the twilight, if they are to preserve their lives. A definite sacrifice is made through a definite effort; and this effort in each case requires a definite exercise of will, which we could perfectly well refuse to make. Every morning, when we rise, we realize that sacrifice, that definite exercise of will.
In the same way, the continuance of the race involves a definite sacrifice, through effort, through the exercise of the will. And now the sacrifice is made no longer for ourselves, but for others, and for others yet unborn. This is why I say that the second principle in propagation, in the continuance of the race, is faith. And it is a faith which runs as a warp through the whole host of living things, a magnificent volume of faith, perpetually active, perpetually effective.
The third principle, when we rise above the very simplest forms, is love. We saw that the institution of marriage, of association and co-operation for the nurture of young, is older than direct sex union, and must have existed for ages, for millions of years, before direct sex union came into being. And this older institution is still the rule among myriads of living forms. Then, as the later and younger institution, we get direct union of the sexes. But the larger and older element of love survives and dominates. Love is the real thing. Direct sex union is the incident, the means. And infinitely touching do we find the devotion, the sacrifice, in innumerable forms of life. Charles Kingsley once said that, when we see all the devotion and care of a pair of mated birds, we are tempted to say that there is much of the animal in human mating. We should rather say, he tells us, that there is much that is human in the animal. I should prefer to say there is something older and more august in both, there is unselfish love, which is divine.
The fourth principle which we find everywhere in natural animal life is effectiveness. Where direct sex union takes place, it takes place in order that the race may be continued. It is productive. It is fertile. And, as we saw, when that purpose has been fulfilled, both male and female become practically sexless; both forget all about sex, so far as sex union is concerned, though in very many cases they are still associated in the care, the education and feeding of the young. But except for the few days of the actual mating time, they quite forget and put aside the sense of sex, and both male and female engage in the search for food on perfectly equal terms, practically as sexless animals.
There is something infinitely clean and wholesome in this, Nature’s real arrangement of sex; and when we add our fifth great principle, fidelity, we see the perfect morality of unfallen animal life. For, as we saw, a majority of all the best forms are monogamous, and not in a loose or nominal way, but strictly, definitely, cleanly. Where polygamy prevails, we almost always find that it is attended by the production of splendid and dominant males, like the bison, the game-cock, the huge-chested sea-lion; in every case the male being very much larger physically than the female. These dominant males become leaders and generals of a complex society, with its own laws, its own advantages for development. But in every such case the male is distinguished by immensely greater physical force.
Monogamy is, however, the higher form, and that much more widely prevailing among the higher types of animal life; and, as we have seen, it has been demonstrated that, in very many cases, the mating is for life, and is full of a very real and genuine devotion and love. And at all points it is consecrated by sacrifice, the “struggle for the lives of others,” as a great scientist and mystic has said.
We have, therefore, sacrifice, faith, love, effectiveness and fidelity as the great principles actually ruling the higher forms of animal life, in this vital matter of race continuance. And we find this splendid sum of moral force bent toward an object well worthy of it; the securing of everlasting life. And not only everlasting life, for the one-celled creatures had that already, but everlasting growth, everlasting ascent from lower to higher forms. It was to this end of everlasting ascent to the higher, that production by halving gave way to production by birth, the forming of a new creature; and its means are sacrifice, faith, love, effectiveness and fidelity.
Let us for a moment picture the sex relations of mankind as they would be, if the pure arrangement of nature were carried out; as they would be, for example, if they exactly duplicated the marriage relations of man’s nearest kin on the animal side, our despised cousins the anthropoid apes.
There would, no doubt, be a pairing season, which would be fixed by measuring back the period of gestation of ten lunar months from the season at which it would be most advantageous for our race to bring forth and nurture offspring. This advantageous time for motherhood might well be the middle of spring. In warmer countries, where we might well imagine the earlier races of men to dwell, there is abundance of food in spring; in India, for example, the mangoes ripen in May. And since February is the month of flowers in India, and especially the month when the great flowering forest trees flame forth in a colored cloud of beauty, there must be abundance of tree-fruits of all kinds ripe and fit for food by April. We may surmise, perhaps, that, if the pure conditions of animal nature prevailed for mankind, the mating season would be ten lunar months before that, let us say in August. If Tennyson were right in saying that in Spring, when a brighter crimson comes upon the robin’s breast, the young man’s fancy also turns to thoughts of love, then babies should be born at midwinter. But this could hardly be an advantage.
Let us say then, that the natural mating season of the animal man might well be in August. And, did the laws of our kindred the anthropoids rule us also, these matings would be strictly in pairs, strictly monogamous, and they would be matings for life. Further, the union of the sexes would be for offspring, and would be fertile; and immediately after this brief period, both male and female would become to all intents and purposes sexless, so far as sex union is concerned, forgetting entirely their difference of sex, and engaging in the search for food side by side, on perfectly equal terms. The association of each pair would continue, with real and deep devotion none the worse because it found expression in deed rather than word, through the period of gestation; and meanwhile the husband—for these faithful anthropoid unions for life well merit the use of the best words—the husband would have prepared a safe and snug dwelling for his wife and her future child. With utmost fidelity, after the baby’s painless and wholesome arrival, the husband would pack mother and infant safely in their cosy house, and then, self-forgetting, would betake himself to the threshold, sleeping in the doorway through the watches of the night as a courageous guardian of his home. And during all this period of gestation, and during the early nurture of the infant, our imagined animal man and his wife would live together forgetting sex, without sex union, though with very real mutual help and devotion. This is what would prevail, were man a natural animal. This is what actually does prevail among man’s nearest kin in the animal world. Pure, clean unions, fertile, faithful, lasting for the lifetime of the pair; and, during the greater part of the year, during all but a few days, in fact, a complete cessation of sex feeling, except so far as the nurture of the young and mutual help went.
This is what the sex history of mankind might be, were man a natural animal. I am not going to complete the contrast by describing what mankind’s sex history actually is. But it will instantly be perceived that, as compared with other animals, man is extremely corrupt. Sin and suffering, the eternal twins, fill a large part of the picture which I leave unpainted: sin and suffering and enduring shame. There is something more than pure animal life in man; there is something which brings this sin and shame. But there is also the divine, of which the devilish is the perversion, and which is destined to purge away corruption and restore full divinity.
Yet even in human life with all its corruption and abuse, there is much that is divine in the birth and nurture of children; and there is the perpetual message of divinity in childhood itself, eternal type of the kingdom of heaven. Even by devious ways the divine creative force attains its ends; even through shame and suffering, the human race is perpetuated, continuity is secured, the possibility of perpetual progress to higher and higher forms of conscious life is assured by the perpetual incarnation of life in the new creature, the new generation.
So that, for this great and splendid manifestation of the Will, we may include humanity in the total of animal life. We may say that here, as in the search for food, we know, by our own knowledge, that there is the definite determination, the definite exercise of the will; or rather, a ceaseless succession of defined efforts of will covering the whole nurture of offspring, the whole long and glorious struggle for the lives of others. And this definite exercise of will, including all animal life, makes a vast total of conscious moral force, directed to ideal ends, in sacrifice, faith, fidelity, love. Its result is everlasting life, everlasting progress to higher forms of conscious life. And we are justified in considering this tremendous sum of moral force, this firm and beneficent volume of creative will, as one of the great forces of the universe; a manifestation, indeed, of the one great force of the universe.
THE WILL IN THE BODY.
III. THE CREATIVE WILL IN MAN.
We have studied the will in two great realms which are common to man and his cousins the animals: the realm of the search for food, and the realm of race continuance through reproduction. In general, we have found that, in both these realms, life rests on a series of quite definite exercises of the will, as definite as that of which we are conscious, when we lift a book from the table, or when we rise and walk round the room. It is well, at such a point as this, to lift a book, or to walk round the room, just to remind ourselves of what the will really feels like, in operation. Otherwise, we may be muddled by metaphysical unbelief.
Life rests on these innumerable acts of will. In the one case the result is the continuance of the individual who, if he ceases to eat, will in due time cease to live. And in general we may say that the will, stimulating the search for food, thereby stimulates to the conquest of space, setting the seeker a-roaming over the wide face of the earth. In the other, the will, promoting race continuance, with all the sacrifice this implies, prompts also to the conquest of time, for through reproduction each race does in a certain sense bridge over time and become immortal. The conquest of space; the conquest of time; these are, if we look at it in a large way, the fruits of the will. Life thus rests on innumerable acts of the will. On what do these rest?
When we considered the wonderful and pathetic family of moles, which set out westward from the Ural mountains millenniums ago and burrowed as far as Britain and Brittany but failed to reach the promised land of Ireland, we saw that there was a wonderful unanimity between them, though they had never met and consulted together in earthy parliaments; a oneness of will that has lasted through ages and has shown itself more steadfast than the Roman Empire, or the feudal system, or representative government. In this greater single will their individual wills rested. In obedience to it they exerted their own energies and burrowed ceaselessly. So this great will, working through the entire mole community, wrought its victory over space and a like victory over time. And as it is with the moles, so is it with all beings. Each has its definite power to will or to abstain. Each can eat or not eat, drink or not drink, as he wills, like the horse in the proverb. Yet around and above these individual wills is a larger will, and the small wills are strong only as they rest in that. And that great will seeks, and in a measure gains, the victory over space and the victory over time, guiding material life until it covers the whole earth and making it, through the animal world, in a certain sense immortal.
So far we have gone by methods as safe, as plodding, as those of the mole himself. But now we bid him farewell. We must transcend him, leaving him behind, and entering a region which belongs peculiarly to man.
There are said to be certain ants in Texas which more than merit the eulogy of King Solomon. I believe Mr. Darwin is responsible for the story that they plant seeds and gather the harvest. Perhaps they do. But if they do the exception is only the more striking. For in general we may say that only man uses his will creatively on other living things. Many creatures, all, indeed, use their wills to act on other living things. The cow crops the grass. The tiger gathers in the cow. But this is destructive, not creative; and there lies the great difference. Man acts creatively. Man exercises the creative will.
What primitive man really was like, no anthropologist knows. All that is so long ago that the record is illegible. But we can say, with some confidence, that certain rude races do certain things at the present day, and that there are gradations from their doings, up through a whole range of improvements, until we come to ourselves and our high perfections. After the stage of killing game for food—which, curiously enough, breaks out again in our own aristocracies—we see that one of the first meliorations is the domesticating of wild animals to be servants or companions to man. And we see another thing, the significance of which is immense. We see that, in every case, the animals thus taken under the wing of man begin to undergo a change. Let me illustrate this by a conspicuous instance. Birds of different kinds lay eggs in differing numbers, some less, some more. Those whose nests are well-guarded, or inaccessible, lay only one or two, as do the eagles on their mountain peaks. Others, like the pheasants and partridges, which nest on the ground, lay a good many, perhaps a round dozen. The reason is that they are much more likely to be destroyed, so that the number is a kind of insurance for the species. If a partridge rears two broods in a year this would make two dozen eggs to the credit of her housekeeping. But the average of bird life is much lower, only five or six eggs a year. Now for the creative will of man. By careful selection he has developed the common barnyard fowl until a good hen can lay not two dozen but two hundred eggs a year, something that Nature unaided never would have accomplished. So that man has not only domesticated the hen but has endowed her with properties she never possessed, and never would have possessed, in wild nature.
With dogs the result has been similar but more picturesque. There are a hundred kinds of dogs, from the huge St. Bernard to the tiny Mexican, each with some special feature or character; some of them developed in scent, some in strength, some in sagacity, but in all cases something produced which Nature did not produce, and in all probability never would have produced. So with horses and cattle. In each case we have added something to Nature, differentiating the huge, elephantine dray horse from the almost antelope-like thoroughbred; or the delicate-tinted Jersey on the one hand and the sturdy short-horn on the other.
But man’s miracles in the vegetable world are even more wonderful. We have all been asked of recent years to admire the works of Luther Burbank, and very wonderful they are without doubt. But he is only doing what has been done for countless centuries, since the dawn of man’s wonderful day. Take, for example, the huge cabbage that one sees at English flower-shows, an immense green sphere of close-packed leaves, weighing as much as a sheep. It has been developed, by minute gradations, from a wild plant by the seashore. Or take the rich-hued, round apples, each with its peculiar aroma, that one sees at the same shows. They have all come from the small, bitter crab-apple, which still spreads over the Siberian hills. With wheat, the mystery, the miracle, is even greater, for it is by no means easy to say with precision what the predecessor of wheat was, or whence comes this wonderful possession, the veritable staff of life of our race. The ancient Egyptians declared that wheat was a divine gift, bestowed upon man by the godlike Osiris; and ever since his day there has been something sacramental in this golden grain. And so we might go on, enumerating practically all the plants in our vegetable garden, and showing that in no case do they remain as Nature left them; all have been made over again by the creative will of man; endowed with new properties, given new forms, developed in new directions, made something more, and something better, than Nature made them; or, in some case, turned into phantastical directions into which Nature could never have turned them.
This last point, the total deviation from Nature, may well be illustrated by the banana and the rose. The bananas which we are accustomed to see on the pushcarts of Italians, or suspended amid groceries, are by no means wild, nature-grown fruit, though most of us may think them so. There is a genuine wild banana, and it has seeds as large as chestnuts, seeds that are perfectly fertile, as are the seeds, let us say, of the pine or beech, whose seedlings we see everywhere through the woods. But the banana we know is practically seedless; it is the prehistoric antetype of the seedless orange or the seedless grape, which are nine-days’ wonders of our generation. But who first grew the seedless banana, it is beyond the wisdom of the wise to say. The memory of man runneth not to the contrary. And so with the rose, such a double rose as the far-famed American beauty, or the Gloire de Dijon, or Maréchal Niel, or the other fair blooms that the poets have celebrated. Strictly speaking these lovely flowers are unnatural, even morbid. Nature never produced them; Nature could not have produced them; Nature could not preserve them to the second generation if man ceased to play Providence to the roses.
The development of the double rose is as follows: It comes, of course, from the single rose, the wild briar, which is spread through the greater part of the northern hemisphere. The wild briar, whether white or pink, has five heart-shaped petals, and these are set round a mat of gold, made up of the pistils and stamens, the reproductive parts of the blossom. It seems likely that these pistils and stamens are specialised leaves; that natural selection has by slow and infinite gradations, shaped them to their present form and purpose from some such form as the ferns still show, a leaflet whose under side is covered with spores. But be their origin what it may, it is certain that the pistils and stamens have a tendency to run down hill, to degenerate, to return to their earlier shape, as leaves or petals. And this degeneration seems to take place through overfeeding, through a certain rank luxuriance of soil or some like cause, which coarsens the life of the plant and degrades its vitality. This is exactly what has happened to our much-admired roses. The former reproductive parts, the pistils and stamens, have degenerated into leaves and now supply the extra petals of the double rose. The same is the case with a great many artificially double flowers, such as double rhododendrons, double azaleas, ranunculuses and ever so many more. The rose has sacrificed use to beauty. To be more precise, we have forced it to sacrifice the future to the present, to lose the reproductive power, in order to gain additional petals and so make a finer show. It has gained the richness of velvety beauty that countless poets have sung, but in gaining beauty it has become a helpless parasite on man, unable of itself to continue its species; seedless, propagated artificially by budding, by grafting a rose-shoot on the still vital stem of a wild briar; or, more simply, by the setting of cuttings in rich earth, as fuchsias or geraniums or carnations are multiplied.
So that it is in reality no compliment for the poet to say that his love is like the red, red rose. Did he but know it, he is saying the equivalent of this: my love is fair to look upon, but she is an unnatural being; she has sacrificed one of her noblest powers to mere outward show; she is no longer able to live the free life of Nature, but has become a parasite, dependent on man for artificial continuance. Surely this were a simile more befitting a Sonnet to a Suffragette, a creature who has stepped from her true place, and is mimicking the activities of a different being.
Be this as it may, it is certain that plants like the rose and the banana are not Nature-made but man-made. They represent the power of man’s creative will, producing something which Nature has never produced; more than that, something Nature would have been quite incapable of producing; something Nature could not even sustain, were man’s hand withdrawn. For there would be no second generation of roses and bananas, if they were left to run wild. Seedless, they must be artificially continued; they are man’s creation, dependent for their very life on man.
We might well extend this view of the matter and recount the activities of man’s creative will in the inanimate, as well as the animate world; showing how man has gradually mastered all kinds of materials and in many directions has produced things that Nature never produced, such as fire-baked bricks, or china, or colored silks, or metallic sodium, or calcium carbide, to mention only a few that float on the surface of memory. And even more wonderful are man’s doings when we come to the imponderables—as it used to be the fashion to call them—the naked forces, like chemical affinity, electricity, and now ether-waves. Man has ceaselessly advanced from the coarser to the finer, gaining mastery over ever more recondite realms of power. Let us illustrate this in a simple way. Of old, when we wanted light by night, we used to kindle a fire of sticks to set some solid material blazing. Then came oil-lamps, fed with oil pressed from the olive, or the cocoanut, or, later, the refined blubber of whales, or the mineral oil of the petroleum wells. This in turn gave place to gas, first distilled from coal and later got by tapping the reservoirs of the earth. Solid, liquid, gaseous; this was the succession of our illuminants. And now we have broken through from the realm of matter to the realm of force. We light our houses by electricity, carried hither and thither through our rooms along slender wires, without the transfer of any matter at all. The torch, the lamp, the gas-jet, the electric light; there is a brief epitome of man victory over Nature, from the coarser to the finer realms. And we have every reason to believe that the progress hitherto made is but a little part of an infinite journey, the small surveyed portion of a great divine road, whose further spaces advance to the infinitudes.
So little man is a veritable creator. Taking the endless treasures that benign Nature offers him, he has set to work with his creative will, and has created, truly created, an over-Nature, a new and additional creation overlaid upon the first creation; shaping anew many of Nature’s forms, whether of beast or bird, pigeon or horse or dog; remoulding the vegetable world with like miraculous power, and forming such wonders as the prize cabbage, with its huge sphere of green or purple; the Brussels sprout, a kind of Socialistic cabbage; the seedless banana, and the lovely but unnatural rose, which has lost sex to gain mere outward splendor. Everywhere throughout the inhabited continents is man’s creative work; his super-creation overlaid on Nature’s handiwork. The total sum of it is immense; its variety is infinite; its relation to man’s life at all points miraculous.
Have you ever considered the law underlying a Grecian temple, with its marble columns? The line which runs up the centre of each column, whence comes it, think you? From the centre of the earth! In each and every case, if you followed backward and downward the column’s line, you would reach the world’s centre; and it is in virtue of this that the column stands, erect and firm, able to bear the weight of the beautiful portico or pediment. It is the same with every wall or tower or human building. It rises upright from the earth, along an invisible line springing forth from the earth’s centre; and only because it follows this invisible but potent line, does the tower or building stand. So is it with all man’s creative work. While he follows out the invisible lines of Nature, he can create practically whatever he will; can mould form after form; can even produce forms that are morbid and unnatural, the result of stereotyped degeneration.
But the point I wish to make at this stage is this: that this wonderful, ample and varied over-creation with which man has decked the once wild face of the earth, is a tremendous cumulative testimony to man’s creative will, consciously exerted, toward quite consciously discerned ends, through countless generations. It seems to me that we have here a conclusive argument against determinism, which has hitherto been overlooked. If we have no true free will, if we act simply from inherent impulse, along predetermined lines, how comes it that we have done such an infinite work for which there was no provision in Nature, which Nature never could have done, and which Nature could not maintain for a single generation, were man’s overruling, creative will withdrawn? I believe that the true deduction from the mass of evidence here marshalled is this: that man possesses genuinely creative power; that he can create, just as Nature has created, producing forms that Nature would never have produced; and that, therefore, we are fully justified in saying that the creative will in man is of the same nature as the Will that made the worlds.
THE WILL IN THE SOUL.
Up to this point, we have dealt chiefly with the bodily life of man, that part of his life which, to a certain degree, he shares with the animals. We have spoken of the Search for Food, through which divine Hunger, most creative and beneficient of the terrestrial powers, has raised up form after form, in a continually advancing scale. We have seen that, impelled by the search for food, any species would, if unopposed, cover the whole earth, and thus conquer space. And we have further studied the second great primal power, that of Race Continuity, whether sexless or later developed into sex; and we have seen that, impelled by this power, any species will tend to perpetuate itself through the ages, and thus conquer time. So much man has in common with the animals.
But even within the limits of these two animal activities, we found that certain marked differences distinguish man from the animals. Whereas, in the search for food, the animals eat to live, man, to a large degree, lives to eat. That is, the animal, such as a cow, eats grass tranquilly day after day, with perfect toleration of its monotonous diet. But man, who has acquired the perfectly new faculty of eating for eating’s sake, is for ever seeking new and strange foods, many of which radically disagree with him. If we include potables among foods, man is also disposed to drink things that, far from building up tissue and strengthening him, in reality injure him, and produce temporary or permanent morbid conditions. If we saw a cow which persisted in eating some of the poisonous mushrooms, in spite of spasms, or just for the sake of the spasms, we should hold it to be a pretty worthless kind of cow. Yet the cow’s owner is perpetually doing just that sort of thing. What the cow thinks of him, we know not. But one has occasionally seen a faithful dog piloting a drunken master homeward.
When we came to sex, we found very striking differences of the same sort distinguishing animal man from the natural animals. In these, we found a pairing time, for a brief period every year. We found fertile union, followed by the birth of offspring; the whole process being purely for the continuance of the race. And we further found that race continuance was a far more venerable institution than sex union; that mutual aid for the care of the young had existed for ages before sex union came into being, and still exists without sex union in many realms of animal life. But the distinctive thing about man, and we must be candid in our statement of it, however little it is to our credit, we found to be the fact that man has learned to pervert sex from its primary purpose of race continuance, to the secondary purpose of self-indulgence, which bears as little relation to its real purpose as the drinking of absinthe does, to the satisfaction of natural thirst. More than that, we saw that, while there is a pairing time for all animals in nature, outside of which they are practically sexless, there is no such limitation for man, who is possessed by the sense of sex all the year round, and who has found many ways to defeat nature, to the ends of self-indulgence. We recapitulate these facts here, not only because of their great moral importance, but even more for their scientific value, as they point the way to certain most important laws, to which we shall presently draw attention.
Thirdly, we found that, as compared with the natural animals, man has one marvelous faculty: the creative will, in virtue of which he has superposed on the natural world of plants and animals a secondary, non-natural world of plants and animals, which have entirely new characteristics, and many of which nature has never produced, and could never produce.
In these three ways, man has asserted his free will; his power to violate and to transcend the normal laws of nature. Even in his sin and shame he has shown that he possesses a certain divinity. It is in this direction that our further investigations will lead. We shall try to discover the means whereby man thus violates and transcends nature; the laws under which this is possible; and the realms in which these laws are operative. This will bring us to the consideration of The Will in the Soul.
Exactly what we mean by Soul, will presently become apparent. Let us anticipate fuller definition, by saying that we use it in something the same way as St. Paul, as the middle term, in the trinity of Body, Soul, and Spirit. Perhaps it would be wiser to use the Greek word, Psyche, but that might seem pedantic; and at the risk of some slight initial confusion, we shall use the good old English word, Soul.
Naturalists and philosophers have sought to draw a line of demarcation between man and the animals, by saying that man is the only creature that builds fires and cooks his food, or that man is the only creature that wears clothes, and so on. Alfred Russel Wallace, in one of his early essays, made the remarkable point, that man is the only creature which produces and perpetuates characteristics unfavorable in the struggle for existence, and that, therefore, some new factor must enter into the making of man.
I am going to try to draw an entirely new line of demarcation between man and the animals; the principle of distinction being that man can not only perceive mind-images, as actual, visible objects, but that he can further bring his creative will to bear on them, with marvelous results. I believe the real difference between man and the animals, is, that man has his consciousness on a different plane, a higher plane, and that this plane is, primarily, the plane of mind-images. Let me try to make my meaning perfectly clear.
You are looking at this printed page. Shut your eyes for a moment, and think of the page you have just been looking at. You can see it once more, though indistinctly, in your mind. That picture of the page is what I mean by a mind-image. Think of a landscape you have loved; think of the face of some friend of years ago; think of the dark, thundering surges of the tumultuous sea. In each case, you call up the mind-image; and it lies for a moment in full view of your consciousness, just as a picture is cast on the screen by a magic lantern. We have mind-images for each of the senses; or rather, mind-images may repeat the impressions of each or all of the senses. For example, a musician with a good musical memory can call up the melody and harmony, note by note and chord by chord, of a long piece of music. If he has also the skill of the fingers, he can then turn the mind-images back into audible sounds, on the piano or organ. So one with a good picture-memory can call up, with perfect accuracy of detail, any scene or face he has carefully watched; and, if he also has skill of hand, he can further put that scene down on paper, with a brush and colors, and make it almost live and breathe. The Japanese artists of the better sort paint almost wholly from mind-images. Hence the perfect grace, life and vividness of their pictures of birds and flowers. There are mind-images of many kinds; but, for convenience sake, I shall speak chiefly of the images of things seen.
First of all, as to the location of these mind-images; where are they? There is a school of psychology, which holds that they are in the substance of the brain. It should rather be called a school of mythology; for the supposition that they are in the brain is pure myth-making. No one has ever seen them there, and I am perfectly certain that no one ever will. But seriously, the supposition that the mind-images are in the brain, leads to an endless chain of difficulties. If the images are in the brain, are they all in one part of the brain, or are they distributed all through its substance? When we call up mind-images, they all seem to us to be in nearly the same place; in a field, comparable, if you will, to the field of a telescope, and directly before the conscious perceiver in the mind. But if the mind images are in the brain, where is the conscious perceiver, before whom they appear? Is the consciousness of “I, the perceiver,” at one point in the brain? or is it distributed through the whole substance of the brain? If the consciousness is distributed throughout the brain, how is it that we have always the same sense of the perceiver, in the same place, and with the mind images immediately before it? If it be, on the contrary, all at one point in the brain, what is that point? And how are the infinitely varied mind-images brought directly before it, every time we call anything to mind?
The truth is, that this brain-psychology is pure myth-making. No one has ever seen mind-images in the substance of the brain, or anything remotely resembling them. What we really do know, is that we are conscious of a perceiving power, or rather of a perceiving self, and that before this self mind-images can be brought, by an act of will-power, and viewed as pictures are viewed on a lantern-screen. That much we do know. Anything more is sheer fancy and make-believe. Nor has this brain-psychology even the merit of novelty. It is at least as old as Macbeth, who said:
“. . . The times have been,
“That, when the brains were out, the man would die.”
But good Macbeth found his psychology shattered on the rock of psychical research; and just the same will happen to the brain-psychologists of our time. For psychical research will show, has indeed shown already, that the consciousness may be exercised in its fullness, with powers of perception and volition, where the brain is not at all; where it is evidently lodged in one of the finer bodies, the astral body or the psychical body, which are forcing themselves upon our science, just as the ghost of Banquo forced itself upon the unwilling Macbeth.
But this is not a treatise on psychical science, so this side of the matter must not tempt us farther. For our purpose, it is quite enough to stick to the facts which anybody can observe, at a moment’s notice: that we have a perceiving self; and that the mind-images come up before this perceiving self, either by chance, as it would seem, or by a conscious effort of will; just as these pages may open in my hand by chance, or I may open them, by an act of will, at the particular page I wish to read.
It is precisely the region of these mind-images which we shall now try to explore. And to begin with, let us carefully note the fact, for hard fact it is, that we can call up any mind-image at will, say, a house, or a horse, or a tree, or a cloud; and, what is even more remarkable, we can hold these mind-images in the field of view, and make them do things. We can make the horse rear and stand on his hindlegs; we can even make him stand on his head, or take wings, and fly. We can make the house anything from a cottage to a castle, from a log-cabin to a sky-scraper; and we can make it grow as we watch; we can, indeed, build castles in the air. As for the tree, we can make it a palm, or an oak, or an orange-tree; and if the latter, we can make it bloom, and bear ripe fruit, within a moment; indeed, we can make it emulate the marvelous tree of the Apocalypse, which bare twelve manner of fruit every year; but we, in our minds, can perform the year’s miracle in a moment. Now without wishing to nag the brain-psychologists, I should like to ask, purely from love of knowledge, what they think goes on, when we do wondrous works like this, in our minds? What a whirl the brain-stuff must be in. It makes one’s head ache, even to think of it. What takes place in the brain, when I recall, let us say, the Sanskrit word for skull, kapala, akin to the Greek kephale? Have I a Sanskrit dictionary in my brain? And if so, whereabouts? And a Shakespeare glossary, and ever so many more? I should like to see even the smallest trace of any one of them, in a solar microscope, or by any other method.
But if we take the matter naturally, and as we actually know it, and speak of what we can verify, the mind-images, then the thing becomes perfectly simple. I have the perceiving consciousness, before which I can call up mind-images, at will; or, when my will is relaxed, they come up of themselves; but there they are, in the field of the mind, and I can take them there, and move them about, and build them up one on another, and pull them to pieces, handling them without hands, and moulding them to my will. But the brain-psychologists deny the will, as a real thing? Well, what is the value of a system, which is directly contrary to all human experience? It is just like denying that I can lift the book off the table, whereas I know perfectly well that I can lift it or leave it, just as I will. The proof of it is the doing of it; and the will in action vindicates itself, in spite of all the psychologists who may have befuddled their heads, and who would fain render us the like service. One man of genius among the psychologists has expressed the truth: the brain has a transmissive power; it transmits the impulses of the Life, which is beyond the brain.
But let me get back from brain-mythology to the safe ground of fact. The mind-images come up before the field of my consciousness. I can call them up, and send them away again, calling up others, to take their place. This is, of course, memory; and memory is always more or less under the control of the will. But the clearness of memory depends on something else, that has gone before. It depends on clearness of impression, and this on clearness of observation, and this again on attention. If we are reading a sentence, we can either fix the mind on it, or let the mind pass over it floatingly, vaguely. In the former case, we can easily remember it; in the latter, we shall hardly remember it at all. And to do the one or the other, lies wholly within our wills. For example, I begin to read a page. Then I overhear part of a conversation in the next room. If it interests me, and I turn my real attention in that direction, I may continue to read the page word for word, and at the end I shall know nothing at all of it, but shall have a pretty clear view of what my neighbors in the next room have been talking about.
But at the beginning, I could perfectly well have left my neighbors to settle their own differences, and have turned my full attention to my page. In that case, I should have taken it in, and should know what it was about, when I came to the end of it. And it is a matter of universal experience, that we can control our attention perfectly, if we please; can turn it this way or that, as one turns a searchlight; can fix it on this subject or that, bringing it to a focus, or leaving it vague, just as we can focus our eye-sight on things on the material plane. Therefore the exercise of will-power in the field of the mind is a matter of common knowledge, all doubts of brain-psychologists to the contrary notwithstanding. Indeed, these very doubts are a proof of our freedom of will, for the mind can just as well conjure up chimeras, as visions of beauty; and much that has passed for philosophy, and theology too, for the matter of that, is simply a hunting ground of chimeras, in the wide field of the mind. The mind in its play is elastic enough to find room for the predestination of a Calvin, or the determinism of a brain-psychologist, just as, in by-gone days, it found room for the serpent-haired Medusa, or three-headed Cerberus, or the blind fury with the abhorred shears. Our wills are absolute, in the region of mind-images. We can build what we will, and can then, like Setebos in Browning’s poem, pull the whole down again, just because we will it, from sheer caprice.
So that we have these facts: By an effort of attention, I can gain a clear and piercing view of any object. I can, at the same moment, paint a mind-picture of the same object, whose clearness will depend accurately on the force with which I choose to exert my power of attention. And, thirdly, I can at any later time, call up this mind-picture, and look at it. Such is the wonderful power of memory, as we actually use it. And I believe that memory depends, point by point, on the deliberately exerted effort of attention, and that it is not automatic at all; just as our walking depends on the incessant exercise of attention, and is not automatic; as anyone who is walking upstairs may convince himself, if the light is suddenly turned off. We hardly realize how much the feet depend on the ceaseless vigilance of the eyes, and how much the eyes depend on the ceaseless vigilance of the mind, the consciously exerted act of attention.
So much for memory, which is the basis of so very much of our mental life. Now let us turn to another faculty, even more wonderful. Let us begin by a simple illustration. Think of a red apple, resting, let us say, on a white table-cloth, a fine, plump, crimson apple, such as they grow out in Oregon. Now think of a green apple, a Rhode Island Greening, if you wish; very good and sweet, and daintily flavored. Now set beside it, on the white table-cloth, a yellow apple, a Reinette du Canada, for example, bright yellow when it is ripe. Now add a russet apple, brown, sweet, nutty in flavor. Look at all four of them, sitting there before you, in the field of the mind. Now you are conscious of two things. First, you see a red, a green, a yellow and a brown apple, clearly distinguished by their colors. And second, and this is of tremendous importance, you are aware of the fact, by whatever process, that they are all apples, in spite of their difference of colors. You are able to lay the green apple upon the red, the yellow and the brown upon that, and to obtain a composite image, which shall be none of them, or all of them, whichever you wish to call it; but which shall be the notion “apple,” a general abstraction, no particular apple, and at the same time all apples. This, I believe, is the basis of all reasoning, all intellectual activity, however complex. It rests primarily on the power of laying one mind-image on another, and thus gradually building up a composite mind-image, just as our photographers build up a composite photograph of the college-girl, or the presidential candidate, or the actor, or whatever it may be.
And into this process, two factors enter: the simple image-making power—the taking of the photographs, so to speak; and then the selective power, which gathers, so to say, all the college-girls together, all the statesmen together, all the actors together, and then makes the composite picture in each case. This rests primarily on the power to perceive likeness; to discern unity; and this, it seems to me, is a purely spiritual power, a kind of divine intuition, a divination. We gather our mind-pictures together, and then we bring them up to the oracle in the mind, the divining power, which pronounces that certain pictures have a common quality, an underlying unity, to which this divining power pierces with unerring skill. My own belief is, that this power of discernment is exactly what I have called it, a divine and spiritual power, something of the Divinity itself, which dwells in us, and which is the basis of all our intellectual life.
Perhaps the most striking, and at the same time the simplest expression of this faculty, is the process of numbering, of counting up. Let us illustrate. If, instead of taking four apples of different colors, red, green, yellow and brown—and we may note, in passing, that we have got the order of the colors correct; we have called up our mind-image of some forty lines back, without error; let us take instead, I say, four or half-a-dozen apples, all of the same color, green for example, and let us set them in a row, on the white table-cloth of our mind-field. Now we can begin and count, from beginning to end, one, two, three, four, five, six green apples; and we recognize the fact that the six apples are related by position, as well as by their being apples, and being green. They have this in common, that they are numbered off along our scale. This is natural enumeration.
But we may have purely artificial enumeration, such as, for example, the numbers of our alphabet. Even if there be a certain natural firstness about a, as being the first sound that comes, when we open our mouths, there is no natural secondness about b, still less any natural thirdness or fourthness about c and d. Yet we choose to arrange them thus, in our minds, along the ideal scale of number in our thought; and we keep them in that order indefinitely. And on this purely artificial or subjective enumeration depends a thing as complex as the arrangement of words in a dictionary, where as many as a hundred thousand different words may be arranged on this simple plan, and are, in fact, so arranged; words standing for practically everything in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, and in the waters which are under the earth: an epitome of the universe, in brief. And in virtue of the purely ideal and subjective enumeration, imposed on the letters by the mind, we can at once find any one of the hundred thousand words in the dictionary, the name of anything in heaven above or the earth beneath. Thus the single intellectual principle of numbering, which has no external equivalent, enables us to master, to permeate, to control the names of all things, and to call up any one at exactly the right moment. For we can look up any word in the dictionary at will, within a few seconds.
Thus the single spiritual fact of enumeration controls all these varied words, and dominates them completely. Looking with piercing mental vision at any word, we perceive, within the word, its invisible and ideal place in the entire number system, its exact place in the dictionary, and we look it up at once, and find it. I have no doubt that memory classifies in some very similar way, according to some natural system of classification which inheres in things, all the objects we observe.
But the point I wish to make, is this: that, in all effective mental action, there are two elements. The first is the bringing of the mind-image up before the bar of the intuition. The second is, the verdict given by the intuition, the oracle, which determines the nature and value of the mind image, just as we determine the exact place of a word in the dictionary, when we look at the word. I believe this intuition, this power of discernment, this inner oracle, is a spiritual power, a power of discerning real values, a power of perceiving real truth. It may be used well or ill, just as the hands or the tongue may be used well or ill; but it is capable of being used supremely well, as Phidias or Raphael used their hands; or as the sweet-tongued orator of the Pylians used his speech.
And I am further convinced that everyone instinctively believes himself to be possessed of this power of discerning truth, of determining real values; even the doubter believes he really knows that he does not know. And I cannot see how this power of knowing truth, this faculty which is the measure of the universe, can be anything but a divine power, akin to the Ruler of the universe, akin to the Divine. I cannot conceive how the brain-psychologist can believe himself in possession of truth, or able to attain to truth, while believing that consciousness is but a fume of the brain. How should a hatful of pulp be the measure of the universe? How should its fumes have any relation at all to truth, any more than the steam of a kettle is a measure of truth? Yet even the brain-psychologist believes that his system is true; he believes in truth; and he is right, because he has indeed within him that wonderful oracle, that touchstone which discerns gold from dross, that real measure of things, that voice of the Divine, which declares infallible oracles. Every heterodox maker of foolish systems is just as good a witness for this divine faculty, as is the seer, the sage. For he has the conviction of true knowledge, of knowing truth; and this conviction could never conceivably arise but from the faculty itself.
So we have this divine oracle. And, by virtue of it, we make order among the mind-images. We perceive real relations, we see unity amid diversity, we gather, we garner, we range. And at last, little by little, we have a second universe within our minds, but a universe, classified, ordered, instantly available at each point, just as each word in the dictionary is instantly available. It is perfectly true that the image of the universe in the minds of most of us is not true nor real; but that is because, as we have seen before in the matter of food and the matter of sex, we have free will, the power to misuse as well as to use. We can build mind-images in heterogeneous confusion, pile upon pile, like monstrous cloud-castles, just as easily as we can build ordered edifices of truth. But the driving power of truth is ever at work, and will bring us in the end to obey our oracles, as we shall later see.
Just one word more, as to this driving-power of truth. We saw, in speaking of the search for food, that the natural driving-power of hunger will carry any species into every corner of the globe; and we quoted the moles, in the midst of their blind, pathetic pilgrimage. Well, there is a natural driving power in the mind, which compels every one of us to make as complete as we can our consciousness of the universe, and which will not let us rest, until our consciousness really is complete, extending to, and including, the entirety of things, not only in the earth beneath, but in the heaven above, and in the heaven of heavens.
As I write, a dauntless mariner is hastening toward the North Pole. Others are navigating the air. Yet others are plunging in the depths of the sea. Each one is driven by this same impelling power, which will never rest until we have all knowledge. Into hidden realms, psychical and spiritual, that force will drive us, until we enter the Holy of Holies, and become one with the Most High.
THE WILL IN THE SOUL.
We are using the word Soul here in the sense in which it is used by St. Paul, where, speaking of man’s invisible nature, he divides that nature into Soul and Spirit. He thus makes Soul, not the final immortal, but the middle term between Body and Spirit; the Psychical Man, to use Paul’s own phrase. Paul further teaches, in the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to his disciples in Corinth, that this middle nature, the psychical man, is the battle-ground in which is fought out the great fight, from victory in which arises the spiritual man, the true Immortal.
We therefore use Soul in the Pauline sense, as the middle term between Body and Spirit. We tried to show that the first essential property of the psychical man is the mirroring power, the power to reflect, and to retain, images of things seen by the eyes, heard by the ears, perceived by the senses. And we tried to show that, as a first-fruit of this image-making power, we have memory, the gradual gathering of a great collection, a gallery of mind-pictures, painted, as it were, on the psychic canvas, and spread out, one by one, before the observing consciousness. The first definite power of the Will in the Soul is the power to paint these mind-images, and, with this, the power to call up one picture or another, as the will may determine; to hold that picture in the field of view so long as may be desired; and to dismiss it and replace it with another picture, when we so desire.
Further, we tried to show that we have a power of selection and arrangement, whereby we may bring up at once all the mind images of some one class of objects, and lay them one upon another, like the negatives of a composite photograph. We took as our illustration the mind-images of apples, and showed how, by super-imposing the images of red, yellow, green and brown, we come at the general notion of an apple, in the abstract; and thus take the first step in purely mental or intellectual action.
Lastly, we tried to show that, in all intellectual action, there are two elements: first, the arranging of the mind-pictures, and, secondly the decision of the intuition, which sits as judge upon the parties thus brought up to the bar of justice. This intuition, this power to pronounce on real values, is akin to Will, and always goes with an exercise of the will, namely the will to know the truth. It is, further, the apparition of a power from above, meeting the power from below, the power to assemble the mind-images and marshal them in order. But even in the marshalling there must be a certain intuition, the recognition of a certain common factor, an underlying identity between them. In this way, it seemed to us, all our mental or purely intellectual life is built up; first by the marshalling of mind-images, and then by the pronouncement of the intuition, the sense of real values, the sense of truth.
Now we are ready to take a further step in advance. So far, it will be noticed, we have spoken of the mind-images as if they were quiescent, as if they were static, and lay calmly in the still vision of the mind, like reflections on a tranquil lake. But this impersonal quiescence is not the common experience of humanity; it belongs rather to a high degree of development and self-mastery, and is only to be attained by arduous work. We abstracted a certain very important element, for the sake of simplicity, and in order to bring out one side of the truth. But what ordinarily happens is something quite different from that quiet and impersonal action of the intellect. A quite different force enters into the action of the psychical man; and this force we may illustrate in some such way as this:
Let us suppose our readers have a weakness for the pleasures of taste, a habit of enjoying, let us say, candy or cigarettes. Let us take this habit as the subject of an experiment. Let us suppose, kind reader, that you buy a box of some kind of candy of which you are particularly fond; something that attracts the eye, and has a pleasant perfume as well as a luscious flavor. Take your box of candies, open it, consider well the fair form, the tempting perfume; and, having duly prepared the mind by the arts of anticipation, take one candy, lay it on your tongue, press it tenderly against your palate, and enjoy it to the full, letting your mind rest on what you are doing.
Now for our illuminating experiment. You have formed your mind-image. Now give it an opportunity to reveal something more of its true nature. Take your still almost untouched box of candies, look once more longingly at its contents, with due deliberation savoring their perfume, and then set it out of reach and out of sight, on some high shelf within a moderate distance.
Now take some dry book, a page of dull description, or some not very interesting narrative of drab and undistinguished persons, and set yourself to read it, leisurely, calmly, without undue pressure of thought and will. You read. Line after line is traced by the carefully moving eyes, and word after word makes its faint imprint on your thought. Presently you are conscious of a slight pull in the other direction. What was it? Yes—there was something agreeable. It was—the candy, whose cherished flavor still lingers in the mind. You put the mind-image away, and set yourself to read once more. Once more the faint pull comes at your attention. You can turn your thought to it, and let the attention, no longer held by your reading, rest upon the mind-image of the candy, and warm it into new life. And then you can do one of two things. You can either obey the prompting of the candy-mind-image, rise and take down your box of candy for further practical study; or you can use the will’s power over the mind-images, set that particular image resolutely aside, and go on firmly and steadily with your reading, till you have mastered your theme, in spite of its dryness.
Needless to say, just the same experiment may be made with cigarettes. And if it should happen that any one among the readers of this study have at any time determined to break themselves of the cigarette habit, such can testify to the pulling and drawing power exercised on them, and, we doubt not, triumphantly conquered, when the mind-image of a cigarette, fragrant, soothing, gently stimulative of pleasing dreams, obtrudes itself winsomely and alluringly in the midst of some piece of hard task-work, taken up, perchance, as a defense against the wiles of the smoke fairy.
These are slight and trifling instances of a grave and tremendous power. For to the fact that the mind image is not static, as we at first treated it, but dynamic, is due the character and force of a whole period of human life. Indeed, if we rightly understand it, to this very property of the mind-image, the psychic image in the mind, is due that whole development which has transformed mere animal life in its moral simplicity into the vast complexity of human life, which is too often neither simple nor moral. If we rightly understand it, this very property of the psychic world is that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our woe.”
We begin, therefore, with the power of the psychic world, whereby the mind-image is regarded as an object, a second kind of reality, overlaid upon, and added to, the reality of the natural world; and that other power, to which we have just given consideration, whereby the said mind-image is not static but dynamic; does not lie still and quiescent in the field of the observing consciousness, but, on the contrary, is very much alive, and exercises a strong and defined pulling power upon the attention, and through the attention, on the will. This alluring power of the psychic object, the mind-image, has borne much and bitter fruit.
In the first parts of this study we tried to show that pure animal life is dominated by two main tendencies of the Will. The first of these is the search for food, set in motion by the instinct of self-preservation. The animal, and this is practically true of the whole of natural animal life uninfluenced by man, seeks the kind and quantity of food that is needed for its sustenance in bodily vigor and health. Indeed the pressure of the struggle for existence, with its stern morality, would visit with condign punishment any animal which ate itself out of health, or persisted in over-eating itself. And this law has but one punishment, the punishment of death. Its laws are faithfully obeyed. All natural animals, therefore, eat to live; eat just such food as best enables them to live, and in just such quantities; and, as far as we can see, the monotony of the food, its lack of savor and stimulating or palate-tickling properties, plays no part at all, nor is in any way a deterrent. Cows or deer eat the same grass, day in and day out, with quiet relish. Soft-billed birds are content with grubs and worms, for ever and ever.
Again, the body, made up as it is in great part of liquid elements, requires that these liquid elements shall be constantly replaced. Therefore the higher animals drink water regularly, and many of them have their drinking places, where they congregate and commune with one another, in their wordless ways. Pure water, supplemented by the natural moisture of such leaves or fruit or moist animal tissues as make up their food; and, as before, a ceaseless repetition of the same pure liquid, without a shadow of monotony.
Compare this with the ways of man, the fallen animal. Man cannot only eat; he can form the mind-image of food. And thereafter he can rest his consciousness on this mind-image, as on a new kind of object; visible, sensible, yet not outwardly objective. The mind-image is dynamic; this means that the image of the food tasted draws and allures him. In the mind, on the psychic plane, he tastes again the savor he has tasted; rolls once more the choice morsel on the tongue of his psychic man, and enjoys it a second or a third time, nay, many times.
Now as compared with the first or material tasting, this psychic testing has certain well-defined characteristics. In the first place, it bears no relation at all to food, to the nourishing of the body, to the natural function whereby the tissue is replenished. In the pure animal, taste is a simple faculty, whereby it distinguishes the wholesome from the harmful, choosing the nutritious, and setting aside the poisonous. It is a discerning and protecting power. But in man, the psychic creature, with his new psychic powers, taste has become a wholly new thing, a source of enjoyment for enjoyment’s sake; a means, therefore of sensuality in the true sense.
The next characteristic of psychic, as contrasted with physical taste, is that it is free from the bonds of time. A piece of food can be eaten once, and once only. You cannot eat your cake and have it; and this every animal knows. But this is not in the least true of psychic taste. Here, you can eat your cake and have it; have it all the more, for each eating. For every time one goes over the psychic image, whether with enjoyment or with repulsion, that very quality in it seems to be strengthened, as though actual new matter, though of course psychic matter, were added to it. Therefore the mind-image of the cake or the candy, as the case may be, is there, within reach, as we saw. It is, in one sense, outside of time, independent of time, not of an hour but of all the day, not of one day only, but of the whole year; in very truth a hardy perennial.
Yet a third property. While it is true that the psychic cake, the psychic candy, the psychic cigarette, is there all the time, and all the time within reach and sight, it is also true that, unlike the food of the pure animal, it does lie under the ban of monotony. The taste palls. The psychic palate becomes jaded. And though it be true, as we saw, that the psychic object grows stronger and stronger by use, yet it is also true that the psychic man gets from it an ever diminishing return of sensation. Therefore he must continuously increase the dose. And this is exactly what takes place. To take a conspicuous example, alcohol is taken almost wholly for its psychical result: for the mood of mind which it produces. It is generally agreed that, save in rare cases, it is actively harmful to the body; and careful experiment has shown that its use means a lowering of all the perceptive and active faculties; a lowering which, curiously enough, is accompanied by a wholly illusive sense of heightened faculty. In other words, alcohol is taken, not at all because it builds up tissue, for it does not; but because it brings about certain psychic states, certain moods of the mind and emotion. And the distinguishing fact about these moods is, that in them the sense of responsibility is dulled, whether it be responsibility for the welfare and safety of others, or responsibility to the laws of purity, honesty, manliness. “Dutch courage,” as it is called, is really not courage but recklessness, due to the loss of the feeling of responsibility. And the light-minded pleasure of the user of alcohol is due to the fact that he loses the sense of the burden of duty, the debt owed to Divinity and the Higher Self. Lastly, there is the characteristic of which we have already spoken: that, in order to reach the same degree of sensation, the alcohol must be taken in steadily increasing doses. This is in complete contrast to the natural taking of food, where, as we saw, there may be absolute uniformity, without the least monotony. It is all the difference between the natural and the psychic taste. The former is simply the guide to right nourishment, for self-sustenance. The latter is mere sensation-seeking; it builds no tissue; and its doses must be steadily increased, till they reach the breaking point of the physical organism.
So far, food and drink, as modified by the psychic nature in man. We must now take up and try to analyse the effect of the same psychic nature on the other great primal power: the instinct of race-preservation, as distinguished from individual preservation.
We tried to give a very general view of this faculty, this marvelous power of race-continuance, as it runs through the whole animal world. We saw that in the vast early periods of animal life, there came a time when the association of the two sexes, for the protection of the young, or for the formation of homes for the rearing of young, prevailed; there being, as yet, no direct sex union. Association for mutual help was the earlier institution.
Later, we saw the development of sex union. And in the higher animals, those which approach closest to the type and form of man, we saw that a high natural morality prevails in sex union; that the general rule is monogamous marriage, a permanent mating, a mating for life. We further tried to bring to light the striking fact that, but for the brief mating period, at most a few weeks, generally only a few days, in each year, the animals are practically sexless, so far as sex union is concerned. In some cases, the sexes are completely separated as soon as the mating time is over; in others, the sexes are associated together, for the better protection of the young, but associated as practically sexless creatures. And, lastly, the unions of natural animals are fertile; their sole purpose is race-continuance; the deliberate creation of infertile unions is a purely human prerogative, a purely human sin.
These contrasts we suggested in an earlier part of this inquiry. We have now reached the stage at which we can ask the cause of this startling and deplorable condition, which distinguishes human from sane and wholesome animal life, with some hope of finding the true answer.
If our understanding be correct, the determining and differentiating cause is the psychic nature: the mirroring power, whereby man is able not only to perceive the external fact, but to build up a second fact, a second object of consciousness, the psychic counterpart of the first object, and then to regard this mind-image as a new, independent object, full in the field of consciousness, at all times within reach, not subject to the limitations of space or time. And, as we saw, the mind-image is not static and quiescent; it is, on the contrary, dynamic, active, drawing and pulling at the attention, in direct proportion to the element of sensation, of enjoyment, which went into the making of it. And the tasting of the mind-image builds no tissue. It is tasted solely for the sake of sensation, enjoyment for enjoyment’s sake.
We can readily apply this to the solution of the problem of sex and the corruption of sex. With the animal, sensation is but the guide to function, as with the power of taste or smell. With degenerate man, sensation is not the guide, but the purpose. And this sensation, mirrored in the field of the mind, is continuously present, so that degenerate man remains, as a Hindu once said, in “a continuous state of tepid amorousness.” This, in complete contrast to the brief mating time, followed by the practically sexless year, in the clean and natural animal.
This is the principle to which we are led by our inquiry. The application is not difficult. And that application, if made not in theory only, but in practice, would restore mankind to the clean virtue of animal life, from which he has so grievously degenerated; removing him from the bad eminence of being the one willfully corrupt animal, the one animal which deliberately seeks to poison the springs of life.
We can well see how the force of desire may thus be introduced into the psychic body of man, and once introduced, how it can be built up and strengthened, until it becomes a dominating and tyrannous power, which its very creator is no longer able to check. It is the old tale of selling the soul to the fiend, who, at first a servile attendant, soon becomes a destructive despot. But we have made it abundantly clear that the passional nature of man is in no sense what he generally calls it, in weak extenuation: a “natural” appetite. Not only is it not natural; it is wholly non-natural and morbid; and only the ceaseless interposition of divine powers holds it back, and prevents it from becoming instantly disastrous.
If we are right in our conclusions, we are justified in saying that to the psychic nature, and to the abuse of its powers, are due the great evils of drunkenness, gluttony and sensuality; and it is admitted by all who can see clearly that to these evils nearly all human sickness, and therefore a vast part of human misery, is directly due. Take the endless griefs and sorrows that come from sex-corruption; the ceaseless tribute of victims; the irremediable waste of lives; the boundless harm done to young lives corruptly, and therefore morbidly brought into being; and add the directly destructive influence of alcohol, especially on the power of clean and healthy generation; add the endless ills which flow from poisoned blood, whether caused by gluttony, alcoholism or sensuality; and we have a grave and formidable total, to be set down to the action of psychic aberration, the abuse of psychic forces by mankind.
Yet we have not touched on the gravest evil. That evil is egotism, selfishness, envy, hatred, malice. If we are right, its genesis is as follows: The natural animal, in order that Nature’s purposes may be fulfilled, has the instinct or impulse of self-preservation. In virtue of this instinct, it seeks to preserve its own life, first by seeking food to replace used tissue, and secondly by seeking to escape from dangers, enemies, or hostile natural conditions.
We believe that this simple instinct is mirrored in the psychic nature; and that it there takes on the psychic character, of continuous presence, of dynamic and irritating force. As a result, it becomes inflamed and degenerate, just as we saw in the case of the power of sex. From self-preservation, it grows to self-assertion. From being the impulse to save oneself, it becomes the impulse to dominate others, to compel obedience in them, to make them pay tribute to one’s desires, one’s enjoyment, one’s vanity, one’s sensuality. It is thus the seed of ambition, the germ of tyranny, the motive-power in the thirst for gold, the sole purpose of which is to make one’s egotism stand out, above the egotism of others; to render one conspicuous and, if possible, envied. For to be envied, is one of the supreme pleasures of base and degenerate man.
We all know the part the looking-glass plays in human vanity. All of us, in our degrees of beauty or plainness, get much pleasure from contemplating our reflections in the mirror. A satirist once went so far as to say: “The Lord created looking-glasses, and rested the seventh day”; meaning that a continuous occupation for mankind had thereby been found. The taste is universal. I was once passing down a fashionable street in a metropolitan city. As will befall, I was seized with doubt as to the straightness of my necktie, and stopped a moment before a plateglass window, to reassure myself. It happened that at the side of this window, there was a broad mirror. In that mirror, I saw reflected, beside by own image, the image of a tramp, ragged, unshaved, dirty, but cheerful. He had found somewhere a piece of bright red ribbon, and had knotted it through the faded paper collar he wore. And he, too, was adjusting his dirty necktie, with exactly the same initial misgiving, the same final half-smile of satisfaction. I caught the pleased gleam in his eye, and saw that he regarded himself complacently, thinking that, after all, he was a pretty good-looking chap. This was a quarter century ago; but I shall never forget the gleam in that tramp’s eye, the kindly gleam of self-satisfied vanity.
How soothing, then, how potent the part played in life by the psychic mirror, in which we can paint ourselves as we would be, and then look with approval on the likeness. No court portrait painter ever flattered so much, with such entire success. When it comes to our mind-portraits of ourselves, we all emulate emperors; we all wear ermine and velvet, deck our brows with crowns, and hold the sceptre and the sphere. Much of life’s fretfulness comes of the unwillingness of others to recognize our insignia, and to do meet homage.
Thus far the influence of the psychic world, of the psychic body in man, at least so far as broad outlines are concerned. Further applications can be easily made. When we come to sum up, we find that, to the psychic world, to the psychic body, we owe a twofold debt: a heritage of things good and evil. Memory, with all its joys, its pensive sorrows; foresight, anticipation, what the poet has called the pleasure of hope, are a first-fruit. Of finer and subtler essence is the mental life, the power to view the mind images, and marshal them; the power to abstract certain common qualities, to gather them into new images, and thus to form general notions, broad concepts of things, and of life itself. These, among things good. Then the things evil: sensuality, the seeking of sensation for sensation’s sake; ambition, tyranny, including the worst of all tyrannies, which makes others the slaves of our sensualism. Truly a twofold heritage.
May we not hazard a bold conjecture, and say that the psychic nature is indeed that “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” which the old books of the Hebrews, following the far older Chaldean lore, set in the garden of still unfallen man? Is it not the fruit of this very tree which, tasted in disobedience, has in fact brought about the fall, that fall which, as we saw, has brought to mankind a long roll of sins against nature, in which the natural animals have no share, though they are made to share the penalties? Is it not the psychic nature which, point by point, is the cause of the evils we have been analysing and are we not therefore justified in saying that the Fall, so far from being an idle myth of the prime, is the grave outstanding fact of human life, the source of unnumbered evils which we suffer; all of our own creation; all from the fruit of that original sin?
May we not hazard a further bold guess, and say that the Chaldeans well knew the truth which they enshrined in the old symbol of the Fall, and that they were profoundly scientific when they taught that, by the side of the natural man, a secondary being, the psychic nature, was formed; that this psychic nature had not only the power of the Will, the creative power; but had further the power to abuse this gift: and that through this very abuse of the creative power, as the tempting serpent, mankind did in reality fall, and is at this moment prone, in deepest need of regeneration and redemption?
THE WILL IN THE SOUL.
Two aspects of the Will in the Soul have been considered: first, that which forms the driving-power in the mind, and leads to the building up of general notions, the deducting of concepts; and, second, the power which forms the constructive impulse of our emotional life, the power of desire. There remains one other fundamental aspect, widely differing in scope and range from these two, yet using them both: the driving power which leads to the association of human beings in lesser or greater groups, bound together by some general feeling of love or hatred for the same things, united by some common aim, drawn together by an aspiration, an ideal held by all.
And, while the operation of the will in mind and emotion may be considered with regard to the separate person, this larger aspect of the Will in the Soul, with which we are now concerned, of necessity implies more persons than one; it implies an assembling of persons, and therefore implies the power which brings them together, and holds them together.
With that binding and uniting power, mind, in the stricter sense, has little to do. On the contrary, it acts very efficiently, when mind is not very active, or, indeed, is hardly active at all. One might, in truth, say that this binding together of human souls takes place in spite of mind, and that mind is often its greatest adversary.
Will anyone who knows human life affirm that the association of simple, natural persons, country folk or savages or children, is the result of reason, or any ordered process of mind, whether conscious or unconscious? Does the peasant or the savage or the child say to himself: I, who move and act and gesticulate thus and thus, am a self-conscious being, possessed of a something which shines within me, and which, for the sake of argument, may be called a soul; this other peasant or savage or child, whose inverted image imprints itself on my retina, whom, briefly, I see in front of me, makes analogous movements and gesticulations; therefore, arguing by analogy, though it must be confessed analogy is but a broken reed to lean upon, yet arguing by analogy I am justified in affirming that this other peasant or savage or child has likewise a self-conscious something shining within him, which, once more for the sake of argument, I may again call a soul. It follows that there is a certain kinship, or mutual relation, or reciprocal function, between our two souls; therefore I shall acknowledge that relationship by hailing this kindred soul, or by throwing a javelin at him, as the case may be?
Does anyone pretend that human intercourse is the outcome of any such chain of argument as this? Is it not rather the case that, just in so far as this kind of argument is indulged in, the direct and simple sense of relationship comes into peril, and the kindly word or the throwing of the javelin becomes more problematical? Does it not often happen, with this, as with so many good arguments, that the train of thought may leave the rails and find itself in the jungle or morass? Is the hypothetical and most dialectical child or peasant or savage, or philosopher for the matter of that, not in danger of falling into some such strain as this: I am, or seem to myself to be, a moving, acting, living creature, possessed of a hypothetical somewhat, which seems to be in my inward parts, and which some people, assuming for the moment, what has not been proved, that they are other people, have agreed to call a soul, but which may be only a will-o’-the-wisp, flickering in my hypothetical brain; well, here I am, or am not, as the case may be; and there is, or is not, a certain moving, or seemingly moving, somewhat, which seems to be making movements, ambulatory, gesticulatory and other, such as I seem to be making myself; or rather such as this will-o’-the-wisp, which agreed, for arguments’ sake, to call itself a soul, has the impression that it is superintending, or at least observing; well, is this will-o’-the-wisp justified in concluding, or even in assuming, because of the said gyrations in that other hypothetical somewhat, that those gyrations revolve about another will-o’-the-wisp, which, oh most astonishing assumption, may haply also call itself a soul? Surely that is too big an assumption for such a small bit of evidence to carry? Surely this will-o’-the-wisp is in no position to affirm anything that has the least validity about itself, much less, therefore, about anything else!
That is the kind of mental debility a too unrestrained use of argument may lead us into; and it is wholly certain that nothing so sane, cheerful and virile as human society, even the society of savages, was ever built on a quaking platform like that. Society, beginning with the association of two people, whether in love or war, never sprang from anything so confused and tottering as argument. It had its birth in something far more direct and simple: namely, the intuition of other human souls. That is the true driving power in all human society, and argument is but a latter day luxury, and, like many another luxury, rather a source of weakness than of strength.
This intuition of other human souls is as primal, as fundamental, as that other inherent certainty with which we began our consideration of the Will; the certainty that we can exert our wills upon external things, so that we are able to lift the book from the table, or to walk around the room, as often as we please, by merely exerting the will which we know we possess. Akin to this primal certainty in character, though not in object, is the new certainty which we are now considering, the certainty that there are other human souls, and that we can come into relation with them.
This intuitive certainty of the existence of other human souls has been the driving power of all human life, from its simplest or most savage beginnings, whichever they may have been; this same certainty of the existence of other human souls is, at this moment, the driving power of all human life, and will so continue, until the great Consummation, when it yields its place to a higher power.
Consider a village of some genuinely primitive savages, such as, let us say, the Papuans of New Guinea. They are born, and marry, and go to war and die, in cheerful certainty each of his or her own existence, and in like certainty of the genuinely human existence of each other. The mother believes in the real human existence of her baby, and will go to all lengths in obedience to her belief; will, indeed, go so far as to set the value of that small, dusky life higher than the value of her own, sacrificing herself with implicit faith, to save or shelter the diminutive Melanesian who clings to her breast.
In like manner, the young chief will collect his doughty men in his finely carved war-canoe, and go forth with them on wild and magnificent adventures; never doubting that they are of like being with himself, and his own kindred life never doubted by his warriors. They will cruise, perhaps, around many a flowery peninsula, haunted by lovely birds of paradise, and, in due time, will come to some other village, standing, like an antique lake-dwelling, up to its ankles in the sea. And there, with wild yells and rushes, they will cut and fight and kill; never doubting for an instant that the folk they are killing or enslaving are genuine human folk; and even when, in the wild exultation of victory, they make a red banquet of the fallen foe, they do not doubt the essential humanity of those whom they are benevolently assimilating round the fire.
So they love and hate, court and marry and kill, bear babes and eat their enemies, with wholesome and whole-hearted conviction, resting on the primal will in them, which drives them into relations of union or concussion with these others, and all the while implicitly believing that the others are of like being with themselves, human lives just as they are. Here is the intuitive certainty of the existence of other human souls, in that far-off, shark-eating, cannibalistic isle of beauty, with its essentially sane and wholesome human life.
Will it be objected that there is nothing distinctively human in this: that crows recognise the kindred being of crows, or cats of cats? Certainly they do. And few things are less flattering to the self-elected lords of creation than the manners of these self-same cats, who have consented to dwell with us for long ages now, but will never, on any account, consent to do anything merely because we wish them to, unless it also pleases their lordly and indifferent selves. If one watches a cat, let us say from the back room of one of those houses in London, that look out over small high-walled gardens expressing the very essense of the great heresy of separateness; if we watch a cat prowl forth in one of the small, oblong gardens, and leap, light as a bubble, on the wall, we shall at once become aware that puss is looking out for, and deigning to notice, not human beings, if any should chance to be within his ken, but cats, tom-cats, tabbly-cats, kittens, big or little, plain or brindled, so long as they be cats and therefore kindred spirits, folk of his own bad race.
Perfectly true, this kinship prevails among cats or crows or wolves or any race of living things, from herrings to elephants. But when we come to human folk, there seems to be a difference of degree, just as there is in the mental and emotional life of human beings, as compared with that of animals. But this treatise in no wise seeks to disparage our brother the elephant or our sister the ass; we are not desirous of making comparisons to their detriment, just as we are not seeking to explore the workings of their minds and hearts. We are simply trying to ascertain a few broad truths concerning human beings, and those lesser people come into the saga only incidentally.
And it is quite certain, whatever may be the relations of these lesser lives among themselves, tender and cordial as they certainly are, or whatever may be our own relation toward them, that our relations toward each other, toward other human beings, are of a different kind. We recognise in human beings a something of kin and likeness, be it only sin and the sorrow that sin brings; we acknowledge, whether consciously or unconsciously, a bond, a closeness, a vividness and force of relation, which we feel toward human beings, and toward human beings alone. This intuition of humanity is the great driving power in our invisible life. For it seems to be quite accurately true that, where we are concerned with genuinely human life, we are concerned with the man invisible, not with the visible man. We have already enumerated the visible man’s activities, as the search for food, migration to new regions, the continuation of his kind, and we have sought to show wherein these are common to men and other animals, and wherein they are peculiar to mankind, or shared only by the animals corrupted by mankind. All this is the life of the visible man.
But when we enter genuinely human life, the life of the Soul, or middle nature of man, we have to do no longer with the visible man but with the man invisible. No one ever saw love and hate, ambition or fear, though we have all seen their outer manifestations. Just as the Will is invisible, yet supremely real, so are all these powers and passions, which are but branches and offshoots of the Will; which have the Will as their driving power, just as Energy is the driving power in such manifestations as light and heat, electricity and magnetism. And, just as the electric spark may carry a message of love, or the force of sharp dissolution, as in the lightning-flash, so may the heart of man be kindled with love or inflamed by hate. Just as magnetism may draw together the filings and the iron core, or may drive two magnets apart, so our human feelings may make for oneness or for hostility. Yet the one driving power is there, under these dissonant manifestations. It is the impulse to come into relation with other human beings, resting on the implicit certainty that such relation is possible, that brings about all the dramas of our human life.
Therefore we speak of the Will in the Soul as a quite distinct realm of manifestation of this marvelous and universal power. And, once we have come to recognise its existence, and have given it a separate name, we are led to marvel more and more at its limitless range, its insistence, its strong compelling and binding power throughout the whole of human life.
We have considered the search for food, as it is common to man and animals less than man; and we have seen how the instinct of self-preservation, carried over into the psychic realm, the human soul, may become ambition, egotism, self-seeking and self-asserting. But there is a wider and more impersonal aspect of this same power; besides its narrow and detrimental action, it has a larger field, where the personal force is used and overruled by the great impersonal Life, the universal Will, in which all individual wills rest. Let us consider the working of personal power and ambition through human life and history.
Leadership is not solely a human quality. There is much of it in a pack of wolves, a herd of antelopes, a flock of crows. There, also, we see dominance, the union of superior insight and superior force, exercising a guarding and guiding power which has a direct influence on the well-being and advance of the wolves or crows or antelopes. Animals which lead this grouped life have certain decided advantages in the struggle for life, and therefore in evolution.
The same thing is decidedly true in human life. First, patriarchal families, then clans and tribes, then nations, gain a marked advantage in the world-struggle, through massed formations and grouped energies and forces. Through this advantage, the genius and typical activity of some one nation may be reinforced, steadied and strengthened, till it becomes a factor in the development of the whole human race.
Wars, national rivalries and contests, political, commercial, industrial, are all but phases of this same human energy, the Will working through massed formation in ordered and organised energies. The direct action of these massed forces on every individual included in them is immense. It is one of the steadiest and most educative powers in life, and affects the individual in countless ways, all of which may be classed as the training of will and consciousness. Let us for a moment consider the matter from this latter point of view, the training of consciousness.
Beneficent Nature, which watches over the outward concerns of man and animal alike, has provided, in family life, a means for the continuance of race and species and type; and at the same time something more. For family life is the field of that “struggle for others” which is the great moralising and broadening force in the struggle for life. How fine and harmonious, how full of fidelity and constancy is the family life of many animals, we have already seen. Human life does not show at its best, when compared with the house-keeping of doves or wild geese or monkeys.
But there is in our human life, as compared with that of the lesser animals, a new and added factor. We are conscious of a kinship, whether of love or hate, with human beings, which we do not feel or recognise toward any lesser life, however faithful or winsome. Love and hate, in their true sense, are compliments we pay to human beings alone.
So our family life is a training ground for love and hate, in a deeper sense than is the family life of doves or love-birds. Our psychic wealth is greater, our souls have a wider scope, our consciousness has new elements, whether of imagination or desire, abstraction or aspiration; and all these new elements come into play, in the invisible part of us, in all human association, beginning with family life.
Thus the family is the first training ground for common will and common consciousness. Whatever be the character of its members, gay or grave, simple or sublime, it is certain that each member of a family living together constantly holds in mind all the other members of the family, whether to aid or oppose them, whether for assistance or self-defence. Thus each member of the family has, as it were, at once a particular and personal consciousness and a general, family consciousness. In the latter each holds in mind all the members of the family, himself or herself, side by side with all the others. Thus each member of the family has, in a sense, the same consciousness, is conscious of the same things, namely, the family membership in its massed form; a general or collective consciousness is thus set up, in which loves and hates, likes and dislikes, preferences and jealousies all play their part.
And, be it noted, the possession of this common consciousness in no sense lessens the individual consciousness of each member of the family. For while each holds all in thought, thus making for unity, at the same time each thinks of all the others in his or her own way, and thus holds the common consciousness with a difference, as the old masters of heraldry used to say. Both unity of consciousness and individuality are thus preserved; and the fuller the unity, the more perfect is the individuality of each; since more things are regarded from the individual point of view, and they are more deeply regarded.
Tribe or clan consciousness carries the same lesson of life a step farther. Here, as in simple family life, the fact of blood-relationship, or at least a belief in its existence, binds the clan or tribe together with a certain warmth of feeling and common interest. The training and development of the wills of individuals is carried into new and larger fields, when tribal war and tribal meetings for justice or common decisions, bring new relations beyond the reach of simple family life. With these new relationships comes a new and wider common consciousness; and the early tribesman of Athens or Rome, or the Norman or Macdonald or O’Neill, has a definite consciousness as such tribesman, which he shares with every other member of the tribe or clan, in virtue of clan kinship, and from which all other human beings whatsoever are excluded, be they valiant as Alexander or wise as Lycurgus. The tribal bard and orator and historian minister to this tribal consciousness in an effective and purely human way, which the far sweeter lay of song-thrush or nightingale or bobolink can never compass.
In like manner, membership in a nation means a wider and fuller common consciousness, a consciousness of the same things held in common with tens of thousands or millions of people; and these things held in common thought are enriched by memories of past national events, whether victories or sufferings, and inspired by common hopes of future greatness and accomplishment. The national anthem embodies the spirit of this common consciousness. Its appeal is equally immediate and intense upon any part of the nation; its evidence of the common consciousness, the consciousness of the same things held in common, is indisputable. What vivid and potent feelings are called up by some national battle hymn, what resources of will and sacrifice and ardent energy it taps, what depths of national consciousness and power it sounds.
There remains one step more. After families have grown to clans and tribes, tribes to nations and nations to empires, there still remains another collective consciousness to be reached: the august consciousness of the whole human race.
As human life has developed, new means have come into being, whereby wider and wider intercourse is made possible. On the one hand, railroads and steamships; on the other, international postage and telegraph lines, have made possible the daily and hourly interchange of thought throughout the whole human race; and this, just at the time when human powers of organisation make possible the stable maintenance of world-encircling empires. What happens in China or Calcutta or California is known throughout the world on the same day. Through our cablegrams, and the papers which print them, the whole world knows each day, at breakfast time, what has happened throughout the world during the last four and twenty hours. The mirth or misery of all mankind is thus shared by all mankind, day by day, and all the day. Very much in this is shallow, cheap, superficial, without doubt, yet the beginning of a great and magnificent reality is there already, and who can say what will be its consummation?
Thus, hurriedly and very imperfectly, we make our survey of history, flitting from one summit of human activity to another. Everywhere, we find the same great lesson going on, under a myriad disguises; the forging of a common human will; the moulding of a common consciousness, immense, vivid, all-embracing. And this, as we saw, with no sacrifice at all of individual will or individual consciousness, but rather with a superb enhancement of these. Were I alone in the desert, what scope would there be for my isolated will and consciousness, in any true and human sense? Every human being added to my range of action and knowledge adds a new field, new opportunities, through which I draw on wider resources within myself, calling more of my will and consciousness into action, and thus becoming more truly individual.
We can well see that those activities of the Will in the Soul which we explored before, namely the whole range of mental and emotional life, minister most richly to this new realm of the Will in the Soul, the realm of interrelated wills and shared consciousness. How much of family unity depends on common memories common thoughts, common beliefs; how much on the interplay of loves and hates, desires and fears, regrets and hopes, which make up our emotional life. And the same thing is true of the larger family, the wider group; clan life, tribal life, national life, and at last the life of all humanity, how much do memory and thought and feeling minister to these?
So, in human life, we begin to see certain ever-working, all-present powers, and aims and purposes of universal significance. The powers, whether of heart or mind, all rest on one power, the Will in the Soul; and this marvelous power is evoked by the implicit certainty, the intuition of the existence of other human souls. This has been the driving-power from the beginning of human life, operative equally in love and hate, through weal and woe. Through this, all loves and wars, all unions and contests have come about. It is omnipresent as air, beneficent and creative as sunshine.
This is the means. The end is not less universal and beneficent. It is the bringing of all human wills into relation with each other; the gathering together of the separate consciousness of all human beings, into larger realms of grouped consciousness; first, the family; then the clan and tribe; then the nation and empire; last, the whole human race.
Thus we find the master-hand present, miraculously operative through all human life, working through endlessly numerous free and separate wills and consciousnesses, to the aim of a united will and consciousness, wherein each shall be at once perfectly individual and universal, though united, yet altogether free.
What the content of this great consciousness seems destined to be, what shall be its depth, height, richness, beauty, power; and by what means these shall be brought to consummation, we shall in due course seek to discover.
THE WILL IN THE SPIRIT.
We have considered the life of mankind in two ways. First, we have regarded the outward life of man, the life of the physical man, man the restless and inventive animal. Then we have tried to go inward, piercing beneath the surface to man invisible, to the mental and emotional life of man. We shall try to carry this inward movement a step farther, hoping thereby to disclose man the immortal.
Considering animal man, we found that, in common with other animals, and especially with those mammalians who most resemble him, he has two great groups of activities: is driven by two marked and dominating impulses. The first of these concerns his bodily sustenance. The search for food sends man forth from his snug lair every morning, and under this great primal impulse he is ceaselessly driven to roam abroad throughout the earth, perpetually conquering new realms, new worlds, new sources of food supply. One might well descant on the silent epic of the modern dinner table; its echoes of the seashore, or the deep, or, perchance, the estuary of some great river, or a mountain tarn, mutely issuing from the shelled oyster, the silver salmon or speckled trout; its songs of sunny France and tanned peasants and hillside vineyards, embattled, like genii of old, in the wine; its vision of far-distant prairie and upland mountain-side, embodied in mutton or veal; olives from the Riviera, where the waves are peacock blue; almonds, perchance, from Turkestan; grapes from Eastern Spain; truffles from Perigord; and a hundred dainties more; a brief epitome of human adventure and endeavor, upon the face of this marvelous earth, and to and fro upon the waters. All these wanderings, we saw, are the fruit of the ceaseless driving of a primal instinct, marvelous, inexplicable, the desire of life; and the desire of food, to the end that life may be lived. Here is the Will’s driving-power in its first great field, and marvelous are the results of it, as we have in detail considered them.
This impulse, of itself, would be enough to keep all living things astir throughout the world, but for one generation only. After that, were this primal power unsupplemented, there would be swiftly descending silence and desolation; the shorter lived creatures passing first, then the more enduring; until the earth was given up to ravens and elephants and tortoises; and, after the departure of these, to ancient trees, the wind still rustling through their tenantless branches; the tongued lightning still chipping their crests. So would come gradual and increasing desolation, as each kind laid itself to rest.
But there is that second instinct, race-perpetuation, supplementing in miraculous fashion the self-perpetuation of the search for food. And in virtue of this second impulse of the Will, working through animal man as through all the world of living things, the earth is ceaselessly replenished and subdued by the children of men.
A third manifestation of the Will in the body we also considered: that creative impulse which has led man to add in all directions to what nature had spontaneously done; so that man has made new animals and plants, or plants and animals with wholly new powers, such as nature never produced; many of them such as nature never could produce, or, having by accident produced, could never perpetuate.
Seeking to penetrate to man invisible, with his world of mind-images, his mental and emotional life, we discovered that, in virtue of this added realm of being, man has at once added wonderfully to his range of activities, and, at the same time, it must be said, has marvelously distorted, and very often degraded the energies of his natural life. We have already listed the indictment against him, and need not here repeat it.
Further, very largely through the power of his world of mind-images, his mental and emotional world, man, as we saw, has built up all kinds of relations, over and above those of simple animal life. These relations we considered, under the general name of Society, and we also tried to learn whither they lead us, and under what impulsion.
Singularly complicated, at once marvelously rich and fantastically shot with perverse impulses, we found man’s emotional and mental life to be. A new world; not merely an imaged copy of the outer world as seen through man’s senses, but a world touched and illumined whether with radiance or lurid glow; a world throbbing, dilating, driving, dominating the personal being of all of us, and forming the great realm in which most of us live the larger part of our lives, whether we wake or sleep; perhaps, whether we live or die.
We shall now seek to survey and discover, in this mental-emotional world; if haply we may win the heart of its mystery, and learn something of the whence and whither of those forces which make it so much more than a mere photographic copy of the outer world. We shall try to catch the magical forces at work, and learn from them the name of the magician who set them going.
First, as to man’s mental life. We saw that it had its origin, so far as we were able to discern it, in the power to form mind-images in the field of the inner consciousness; and, having formed them, to regard them, examine them, and observe them, as a new world of objects, added to, and in many ways like, the outer world of tangible things, trees and rocks and people and living beings of every kind.
Moreover, as we saw, we can not only paint these mind-pictures and admire them in the field of consciousness; we can do with them things which we have never been able to do with the first world, the world of external things. We took as an illustration a basket of apples, red, brown, yellow and green. And we saw that we could take the natural apples, and set them in a row on the table; and that we could make a corresponding image in the mind, a like row of apples, red and brown and yellow and green, which we could now contemplate as a second reality, in many ways like the first. But we could further take these mind-images of apples and lay them one on the other, so that all should be in the same place at once, a thing that never happens to natural apples. And thereby we were able to form an apple, at once red and green and brown and yellow; each of these, and all these, at the same time. Thus we got a new apple in the mind, which was each apple and all apples, a generalised apple, at once like and unlike any apple in the outer world; like it, in having the same particular form; unlike it, in having at the same time a general or universal form, embodying in itself all apples that have been or can be.
We do not wish to endorse the ancient doctrine, or to maintain that all the woes of mankind began with apples; we are willing to substitute pears, and to show that a row of pears may be formed in the mind in like manner. So that Bartlett and Bon Chretien, green pear and brown, may be ranged together, and, as before, blended into one, which shall be at once any particular pear and all pears. Nay, we can go further, and do the same thing for grapes, of every hue from black to purple, from purple to green, from green to gold; with bananas, green, yellow, or red; with cherries, currants, gooseberries, and outlandish durians and mangousteens. And having got our generalised apple, our generalised pear and grape, banana and mango, we can generalise once more, and, adding all these together, get a new and wonderful product, a fruit, which shall at the same time be each fruit and all fruit, such a prodigy as has never been seen in any garden; hardly even in paradise.
Nor are we limited to fruit. Stem and leaf and bud and flower will bear the like imaging in the mind, the like blending into general forms. And so we go on, gathering and ranging all things in our minds, setting them side by side, searching out likeness and differences, until we have gone some length toward gathering within the mind of each of us, the consciousness of each, a sum and summary of the world.
In virtue of another impulse of the Will, whose early stages we must here take for granted, we make certain sounds to accompany these mind-images; whether merely associating the sound and the image, or finding some real relation between them, we cannot here inquire. Certain it is, that we have built up a world of words to match our world of mind-images; nay, every race has its own conventional world of words. And this new realm is created, in some kind of analogy to the instinct of race-reproduction, so that we may perpetrate through generations the aspects of our mind-images and generalised views of things; which thus pass down through time, as the successive generations of our race, or of other creatures, pass down.
It is in this new created world of words that we embody our views of our mind-images, and all the astonishing things we have found out, or divined, about them.
Now let us consider two aspects of this image-making power. First, there is the ceaseless activity of image-making, and the superposing of images. And this, as we see, is carried on in obedience to an imperative inward impulse; as though the Demiurge had pointed to this new world, as he pointed before to the old, and bid us increase and multiply, replenish and subdue. This driving power, this impulse, this pressure of the Will, works in all minds, but very unequally. Some, urged by a never-resting longing and desire, must ever, like the Athenians, seek some new thing, insatiate as those tiny songsters which in a Summer’s day consume incredible numbers of caterpillars; or, like a swallow on the wing, agape for countless gnats. So must some of us be adding and ever adding, piling mind-image on image, as Ossa was piled on Pelion.
Let us see whither this will carry us.
There is, as we saw, a generalised apple or pear or mango. These again blend into a generalised fruit. So also with stem and branch and leaf. So with tree and bush and herb, till we get at last the vegetable kingdom, regarded as a whole. Needless to say, we take like order with beasts and birds and fishes, till the animal kingdom is added to the vegetable; and in like manner with the rocks, till all minerals are ranged together, in a single general thought.
We do far more; for, not halting on this earth of ours, we cross the ether to the moon, the sun, the planets and the stars; adding these, too, as trophies to our mind-images, and seeking to build up within us a complex that shall bear resemblance to the vast and living complex without.
This we do, and we carry along with it, step by step, that other world of words which shall keep tally for us, and shall form a bridge whereby I can bring my mind-image of each thing and all things into relation with thy mind-image of each thing and all things.
Under this simple and habitual act lurk tremendous implications. We tacitly imply, first, that this inner complex of mind-images bears a true relation to the outer complex of the world; and we further imply that the complex in my mind and the complex in thy mind bear a true relation to each other; that there is a common truth, a shared nature in them, which makes it lawful and valid and fruitful to compare the one with the other.
Now let us go back to the second branch of this mind-building process whereby we create a new world. We are not content with imaging apples or trees or birds in our minds. We seek also to discern them, to divine the manner and progress of life in them, to see through and through them, till they float transparent and palpitating in our thought. The pressure of the Will, impelling us thus to see through things, and search out their secret, like the pressure which impels us to multiply mind-images, varies immensely in different human beings, but there is something of it in us all. There is much of it also, needless to say, in the lesser creatures. But with the best and wisest of them it is rather a promise and a foreshadowing, than a steadily realised and available power. In man only, and in only a few in perfection, is this marvelous power developed. And here, once more, the implication is far greater than the already accomplished fact.
The Will impels us, not only to gather within our consciousness a complex image corresponding to the vast complexity of the world, but further compels us, with regard to each thing, to try to discern its real being, its inmost truth and essential nature. So that we are prompted to add to our world of mind-images a finer, more impalpable world; the total truth, namely, concerning all these images and the things they image.
We pointed out before that this truth-seeking instinct is the impelling power in all philosophers and men of science. Whatever views they may explicitly hold, concerning consciousness, its nature and its source, whether they call themselves materialist or spiritualist, there is this implicit certainty within the consciousness of each, this driving power impelling them to seek for truth; this inherent and living faith that there is a true aspect of things, and that this aspect may, perchance, be found. Here again, in this confident belief in truth, we have a something not obtained by reason, not to be demonstrated by reason; something on which reason rests, as a foundation.
For by reason we can never prove that reason is reasonable, we can never prove by reason that truth can be found. The antecedent and implicit belief that truth can be found, is the impulse that sets reason in motion; and it is this confident faith that cheers reason forward in its task.
This impulse which thus antecedes reason and sets reason in motion, is of the Will. It is much like the impulse which sets the animal in motion, in the quest for food. It is much like the impulse which sets the hearts of men moving toward each other, whether in love or hate. Therefore we have thought well to consider this impulse also as of the Will, and have tried to indicate its place in our life, by describing it as the first branch of the Will in the Spirit.
Let us consider a little how this truth-seeking power acts, taking as already demonstrated that it does act, and act incessantly. It acts we find, always in the same way, always by divination. Take that first example which we have already used, the row of apples, red, green, yellow and brown. It may seem to you quite a simple thing to perceive that a red apple is of like nature to a brown apple; that both are apples. On this simple certainty, a small boy or a horse will act in cheerful, unhesitating joy. The small boy is too often victim to his implicit faith that green apples are akin to red. Yet whether for the horse, the small boy, or ourselves, what a marvelous principle lies at the heart of this so simple motion of the Will; the principle of sameness, of likeness, the divination of a common nature between two things, apart yet akin. This divination of likeness, of oneness, thus seems to underlie all reason, and to be the fundamental principle on which the Will acts. For is it not in virtue of such a sense of oneness, or related nature, that we make the effort to act on the physical things about us, as in the search for food. It is because the thing to be eaten is discerned to be of kindred nature to the eater, whether moneron or mammoth, that the absorption of food takes place. To say that this is but an extension of what goes on among the molecules, is but to widen, not to lessen the wonder; it further supports our view that this impulse is of force, of the Will, rather than of reason.
When the force, the impulse toward oneness, comes to union with our consciousness, then the first motion of reason, or what is to become reason, is possible. When the perceived oneness is held in mind by itself, abstracted, as it were, from the things which we perceive to be of like nature, then distinctively intellectual life has begun. It is but a regular development from this beginning, to the clear divination of a Newton, which perceives the one invisible power that links the stars together, and holds them in place, moving them through the ether.
But from the boy with his apples to the philosopher with his stars the perceiving of oneness is an act of intuition, and on this intuition reason rests. The initial intuition is rather of the nature of Will than of reason, and it is closely knit with the vital movement of the Will in the two great realms we have already considered: the realm of our relation with visible, tangible outward things, and the realm of our relation with our invisible but clearly divined other selves.
The intuition of unity, of real likeness of nature, is the bond which binds all our relations with outward things. The intuition of unity, of real likeness of nature, is the bond which draws us to our other selves, whether in love or hate. Let us see whether we can learn something more of the import of this same intuition of unity, as we are beginning to recognise it in the deeper activities of the mind.
We saw how the divination of unity, beginning at first with the common applehood of apples, green, red, yellow and brown, could gradually be extended, until from apples we passed to fruit, from fruit to the vegetable realm as a whole, from this to the gathered denizens of this earth and the earth itself, and, at last, to the whole visible and invisible frame of things: the forms of all things, and the forces that inspire and impel them. Here, in some sense, is a total view of the universe, carried over into our consciousness. And this carrying over is made in obedience to an impulse of the Will, a power abiding in the inner being of consciousness, part of our deepest and most real being. So that for each of us in some degree, for the wisest in a high degree, there is this steady impulse to build up in our consciousness a realised image of the world, of the universe, of all things; and this impulse rests on an implicit and inherent certainty that truth can be known; that we can know it; and that the realised image of all things thus formed in our consciousness is genuinely and truly related to reality. This relation we prove and strengthen by continual commerce with things, by a ceaseless intercourse, a give and take with the great world in whose midst we find ourselves set.
Through this impelling and driving power inherent in the deepest part of our consciousness, we learn the lesson that this deepest part of our consciousness is, in some sense, akin to the driving and impelling power which upholds and moves the great outer world. The driving power within us, which we find there, ready made, so to speak, impels us to build up a realised world within our consciousness; therefore this driving power is genuinely creative. Further, this driving power leads us to build up a realised world which is genuinely akin to the great world without. Therefore the inner driving power of our conscious minds must be as genuinely akin to the driving and impelling power of the great outer world. Again, we are endlessly impelled to enlarge, extend, perfect our realised image of the world; nothing short of completeness can satisfy us; we seek the whole of truth. Therefore this impelling power in our deepest consciousness, this Will in the Spirit within us, has a certain sweep of infinity, a certain need of completeness and perfection, akin to the Being of the great universe itself.
We have, within these last hundred years, been witness of three great stages in the progress of the realised world within our consciousness. First, before Darwin, came the listing and cataloguing period, the result of which was a static vision of the world, a universe at rest. Then came Darwin, who set all things in motion, and we learned to realise life as something ceaselessly moving, advancing. A third period has begun, and we are learning to see within the outer universe a finer universe, a web of finer, more transparent powers, which uphold the outer, visible frame of things. We are thus coming round to a view of the universe which has more the nature of force as its essential being, and less the element of form, or concrete, crystalized matter. We are learning to see the universe more as of the nature of force; that is, of the nature of the Will. And we are coming to perceive a closer likeness between the impelling and building Will in the inner consciousness of our own spirit, and the impelling and building Will which we divine as upholding and driving forward the visible frame of things.
So that, on the one hand, the inherent Will within us, in the deepest part of our consciousness, declares its kinship with the driving power of the outer world, by building up a like realised and moving world within; and, on the other hand, the power of divination which is the starting point, the one effective force in all scientific discovery, is steadily coming to a view of the driving-power of the world, which brings it ever closer in nature to Will, to the kind of Will which we find in our deepest consciousness.
We hold ourselves justified, therefore, in thinking that the relation thus indicated from both sides is a real one; that there is a deep, inner relation between the Will in our consciousness and the Will which made the worlds and keep them going. And we find a strong confirmation of this kinship in our power to create, first, as we saw, in the outer world of beasts and birds and flowers and fruit, of substances and forces; secondly, in the inner world of mind-images; and, thirdly. in the finer world of diviner realities which make up our ascertained science, our knowledge of truth.
Our whole progress, from the very outset, rested on divination. Divination is the driving power of reason, which is the instrument of science. It is the first divination of unity that makes reason possible, and therefore science possible. It is divination which, in every case, perceives the law, the truth, lying hid within any gathered group of facts. Even the most industrious scientist, without divination, is a mere mole. Let him gather ten, or a hundred, or a thousand facts; no one can promise that by any process of reason on which he can securely reckon, he shall be able to discern the relation of his facts, the law of them, the life-power which binds them together. That must come by divination, by a kind of divine grace, which flashes luminously through his thought, and through the listed facts, bringing to light the hidden truth within them.
Let us, therefore, candidly admit our complete indebtedness to divination; and let us gain from this admission confidence to carry the process further. Let us apply this same divining power to the great problem we have indicated: the relation of the Will in our inmost consciousness to the Will that made the worlds. And let us press the matter at the right point; within ourselves, namely, in the deepest part of ourselves. I doubt not that the fruit of this effort will justify it; and that we shall gain progressive certainty of the kinship of the Will manifested in these two realms; and, further, that we shall divine that it is precisely in virtue of this kinship of Will that we ourselves have been able to create, inwardly and outwardly as well; and in virtue of this same kinship we have been able to surprise some of the secrets of the greater Will, and reach some understanding of its plan in the wide world in which we dwell.
If this be true, it would seem that the problem of life is to be solved, not so much through the reason, as through the Will, and most of all, through an immediate and vital relation between the Will in our deepest consciousness and the Will which upholds and moves the worlds. Through this vital relation, perchance, we may cause Science to grow into Wisdom; and gain something like an inside view of this great total of life, an interior hold on the essence of Life itself. We seem already to divine the truth that we rest, not so much in the outer order of things of which our bodies form a part, as in an inner order of things, approached through our deepest consciousness, in a realm where the Will in that deepest consciousness comes into immediate interior touch, into unity of inner being, with the Will that made, and continues to make, the great universe itself.
THE WILL IN THE SPIRIT.
In considering the search for knowledge, we found that the impelling force underlying it is the impulse to take all things into our consciousness, to make our consciousness an image of all the universe, and not merely of the outer form of things, but also of inner essences and realities. The intellect strives to see the whole universe as God sees it, as it really is.
There is another impelling power in the intellect, and one that every man of science, every seeker for wisdom obeys, whether or not he be conscious of its significance: this is the instinct to share our knowledge with others; more than that, to make it universally accepted of mankind. Do you think that Nansen or Peary would be content to penetrate to the North Pole, the dead-center around which twirls this venerable world, there to ascertain beyond every shadow of doubt that the elusive, invisible goal had really been reached, and that the center of the stars stood still in the zenith,—and then to die, the end perfectly achieved, but the secret unimparted? Would not the explorer seek to move heaven and earth to impart the wonderful news that the Pole was found, the great quest triumphantly ended? Would he not be almost willing to seek, find and die, if he could be absolutely and wholly certain that the news of the finding would be carried to the minds of men, that his consciousness of it would become the consciousness of all thinking men?
From Bluebeard’s wives to the last of the Dryasdusts turning over the dull archives of the dead, the same imperious impulse rules. Bluebeard’s hapless lady longs to make a part of her consciousness, that which is already in the consciousness of her lord, and Dryasdust, dull, eager, mole-like, desires first to bring into his little field of thought the thoughts and feelings the old archives hold, and then to share this knowledge with others. Hence all kinds of learned, much annotated tomes, bulletins and proceedings. Hence the meetings of all erudite associations, conventions, congresses. The impulse to share knowledge is as imperious as the impulse to know.
I wonder whether there is not an element of Lady Bluebeard’s haunting impulse in something which is becoming importunate in our own day: the feverish longing of so many other ladies to enter the polling booth, to put a little cross opposite a favored name? Is there, perhaps, some deepseated suspicious hope that mere man knows something, feels something, is conscious of something, which, Bluebeard-like, he is hiding from the partner of his joys and sorrows, the co-angel, who mounts with him the long, golden stairs? Is it the torturing wonder what this secret may be, that drives the new bacchanals forth with cries for votes? Might there not be a fine vengeance in admitting to the vote one-half of woman-kind,—say, all the blondes, or all the brunettes,—on the express and explicit promise that they would never, even under torture, reveal the secret of their sensations in the polling booth, or the mystic script of the ballot-paper, to their still unenfranchised sisters? Which would suffer the most, those who voted and could not tell, or those who could not vote nor learn, the fatal secret of political power?
We seek, by this bantering treatment of a weighty theme, to bring out the truth that the impulse to share consciousness runs through the whole of mankind, from the thief with his pal, to the divine sage with his disciples. It is the warp and woof of human life.
But we have tried to show, from the beginning, that all life, and, with it, human life, is not so much a matter of perception as of will; that life is not merely receptive, but creative. And this is true, and splendidly true of this new field which we have entered: the field of shared consciousness. It is of the will, far more than of the mind, and the full sharing of consciousness and will, with the conscious oneness that it brings, is Love, the theme of our present chapter.
The other day, when I was in the mountains, we were looking at a chart of the rivers and hills. One musical, cheerful stream had two tributaries, on the right hand, and on the left. We all knew them well; some had fished in both. Some of us, less given to slaughter, had walked or picnicked on their banks. But whereas, in our experience and knowledge, the tributary on the right first joined the stream, and then, a mile lower down, the tributary on the left, on the chart it was just the opposite; the stream we knew to be lower down, was indicated by a blue line half an inch, or half a mile, higher up. At last the explanation was suggested. The map was right, and the fact was also right. But whereas the fact was of the present, the map was of the past. The course of the stream had changed; but when the survey for the map was made, the stream which now entered the river lower down, followed another course, higher up.
So at least we surmised. More inquisitive than the rest I set forth, two or three mornings later, to test the fact; set forth, indeed, like Kim’s Lama, in search of the lost river. My way lay along the talkative stream, from boulder to boulder among the laughing ripples, and, under an arch of alder trees, I found what I thought might be the old channel, the mouth of the missing stream. Following it up, I found a green and sluggish reach of water, with boulders too large for it, with pines along either bank, the ground beneath them piled with rotten branches, yellow and greasy stems that slipped under foot and sent me stumbling into thickets of wild raspberries. This slimy, sluggish Lethe dwindled, till it became a mere trickle of brown water, underneath huge pines, and finally of the lost river there was nothing but a wide, level channel among woods carpeted with oozy moss, or lady-ferns, or goldenrod.
So runs the tale of the lost river. Now for the moral. As I made each discovery, first of the Lethean outlet under the alders, then of the long reach of sluggish water, then of the dry channel, where the ferns spread a green mantle over knobs of granite, I found myself putting into words the description of this part of the channel or of that, and in soundless fancy telling the tale of it to the friends who, two or three days before, had put their heads together over the chart, and finally suggested that the map might once have been right, but the water course might have changed. And, at each discovery, I found that half my satisfaction lay in the telling, even in this fancied, wordless way, of what I had discovered, enjoying, even in fancy, their sympathy and attention, with a touch of admiration and interest, perhaps, for the explorer and narrator. Such is the imperative impulse for sympathy, for shared consciousness.
Yet another tale, with a moral: A wren is a small thing, even among birds; small, and aggressive, and self-confident. We always loved them for their pert and pretty ways, when we were children; loved those little nests of theirs, mossy spheres of green, with an oval window-door, through which one could see the brown eye of the little bird-mother, her head perked sideways, and the little brown tail cocked absurdly, with an air of self-confident swagger.
It happened to me, the other day, as I was exploring an old lumber-road along the shoulder of one of our mountains, to hear an indignant, fussy chattering among the twigs of a moose-bush. Going closer, I saw a little brown wren, tail jauntily cocked, eye bright with anger, chattering wrathfully, daring me to come on.
It was like meeting an old friend; more, it was like a moment of childhood come back again; and, unconsciously, I thought how I would tell about this little wren on these far-away mountains, to the folk of my childhood, who had shared with me the joy of those earlier wrens. Then the futility of my thought dawned on me; the folk of my childhood, dearly beloved, were gone beyond the reach of my tale, and I alone was left, to watch this New World wren. The sunshine paled for a moment, and once more I realised the part that shared consciousness bears in love.
It is the same in all true love-making. First, the flush and heightened pulses of awakened creative power, setting the imagination aglow, and heightening thought and will. Then, later, if the good powers prevail, there is the perfect understanding of deep love, wherein each is conscious of the other as an added and supplementing self, as a new realm of life joined to the old, as a luminous territory into which the heart’s consciousness can go forth, confidently counting on indulgence, understanding, sympathy, encouragement, love.
When Darby and Joan first saw each other, there was a shock of bashful delight and hope and fear. Each felt an overwhelming desire for the other, for the other’s good-will, and comprehension, and approval. They were drawn together, filled with a longing to talk of each other and of themselves. No happiness seemed equal to this; it was a new world, the land of promise.
Into the promised land they entered. That was long ago. Now, graced with the silver of age, Darby and Joan possess each others’ hearts. They have the same loving memories. Each knows, when some image of by-gone days comes up, that the other knows it. And so, in their gathering twilight, they smile, interchanging memories, looking back over life together, looking forward to heaven together; already realising the heaven of shared consciousness and love.
There is their vulgar and ambitious neighbor, rude, masterful, effective. All his life, with truculent force, he has fought for his own hand, browbeaten his associates and workmen, bullied a weak girl into marrying him, tyrannised and thwarted his children. Now he sits in defeated magnificence, possessing everything, name, fame, wealth, he ever set his heart on, yet feeling that something has slipped him, and wondering indignantly what it is.
He also was driven by the imperious hunger for shared consciousness, but he missed the clue. Creative, powerful, massive, he had from the first a clear image of what he was and hoped to be, a fine, conquering conviction of his own omnipotence. And this masterful image he imposed on others, dominating, tyrannising, overbearing, imprinting himself and his will and his bulk upon his subjects, his wife, his children, his weaker neighbors, and finally upon all the world. They think immediately of him, when greatness is spoken of.
What has he missed, for lack of which he sits sullen, disappointed, a thwarted and tricked despot? He has missed what Joan and Darby found, and became immortal in finding: the supreme human secret. Feeling the potent impulse to thrust his consciousness upon others, intrusive, not to be repelled, he was marvelously blind to the other need: that their consciousness should equally enter his, that he should be alert, tender, forgiving, succoring to them, as he would have them be to him: “as we forgive them that trespass against us”; it is the last word of religion.
We have come, this humanity of ours, to the threshold of this secret, the verge of this marvelous, wide-expanding territory. The word of shared consciousness has been spoken, and we see that here is the essence of true human life. We have gone a long way, hardly knowing what we did, toward gathering together the material for this shared consciousness. In our annals and chronicles, we have the stored consciousness of the past. We seek eagerly to add to our own, the consciousness of the lovely ladies and old knights the poets tell of. Athirst, we follow the story of the adventurers, now to the Pole, now to the desert, or through mysterious oceans, to add their consciousness to ours, so that, through their eyes and hearts, we may be chilled by eternal snows, parched by the desert, tossed upon the melancholy waves.
Thus do all books gather up and bring to us, to be added to our own, the consciousness of other men and women, under other suns. Shakespeare brings out in us the consciousness of his Hamlets, his Lears, his Rosalinds, his Cleopatras. We add them all to ourselves. We find them all in ourselves. They widen and ripen our hearts, and open them to our other selves, the men and women and children of every day, whom we meet and talk to in the street, and in whom also we dimly divine the hidden jewel.
And those among the writers, whether with pen or brush, who charm and delight and overawe us, what joy it is to add their consciousness to our own. They finally bring us to see the same stars, to walk the same heavens, to commune with the same gods, and so, through their leading, we enter into our divinity. One might find here a formula for all art, even the highest; its purpose is, to make us share the consciousness of the artist, to see with his eyes things mortal and immortal, to add his finer vision to our own, and thus to come with new eyes, with a new gentleness of heart, with new warmth and tenderness, to this marvelous drama of daily life, which, all-unheeding, we live among the stars.
By this clue we are admonished of the purpose of human life. It is, that we may share the consciousness of our fellow-men, they entering into us, and we into them, so that, as by the quality of mercy, both may be blest. All wars and strifes of nations are for this, and accomplish this. And it is just because life is of the will, rather than of the mind or thought, that war and the grappling of wills can bring about an intimate understanding that the parleying of peace could never have accomplished. Perhaps this is why the purest message of religion, most directly provocative to the finer will, has been the cause of so many centuries of strife: “I bring, not peace, but a sword.”
It is the will that must be trained, the will, powerful, impetuous, godlike; and the will can be trained only through calamity and conquest.
Yet the impulse of all war is peace. It is the search for shared consciousness, the imperative need of common being, which sets all these swords flashing, these cannons thundering. But peace can come only through an alliance, a reconciliation of wills, where each, immersed and united with the others, yet remains sovereign and free. The final peace of mankind can come only when all men and women perfectly perceive this, and, perceiving it, attain to full and sovereign will, strong, creative, masterful, and at the same time enter fully, with self-surrender and perfect sympathy, into the consciousness of each other.
This is the paradox of our destiny. This is why life is such a turbulent matter beset with slaughterings and rebellions; it is no small thing to create sovereign wills, each acting freely and potently, yet violating or affronting no other, nor seeking to bring any other into bondage, but rather supplementing and strengthening all others in the myriad ways known and possible to the marvelous heart of man.
Why did Darby and Joan accomplish this difficult, superb task, while their grim neighbor, so much more gifted and powerful, was defeated in the like attempt? Because they found the key to the mystery, the golden clue of sacrifice, without instant following of which there can be no traveling on the great and universal road.
From the very dawn of things, progress came only with sacrifice. The very moneran had to sacrifice half its life, in order that there might be other monera, living jelly-specks increasing and multiplying through the waters. So upward, through the infinite stages of the struggle for the life of others; always progress through sacrifice. The nesting birds render up a part of their very lives to their offspring, and leave themselves vulnerable in endless ways, to bring up their brood. The she-wolf makes the sacrifice of the snugness of her lair, to go forth in search of food for herself and her cubs; but for this sacrifice, and the keenness and daring of the chase, she and they would starve.
So for us also. We must give up our notion of ourselves, if we are to inherit our neighbors, to enter into that estranged portion of ourselves that is hid in them. Therefore sacrifice is the door of love, of enlarged consciousness, deeply shared. And if, through harsh importunate desire, the goal be missed, it is because sacrifice and its purity have been forgotten in headstrong and lawless wishes for ourselves, at others’ cost.
Foolish folks think that such true sacrifice is a weak thing, leading to weakness. On the contrary, true sacrifice is a strong thing, possible only to the strong, and leading to divine strength. And this, for no sentimental reason, but because, in abating our selfishness, we enlarge ourselves twofold, adding to us our better selves, adding also the consciousness of others. This is a double enrichment, a twofold enhancing of the will; not weakness, but steadily growing strength, and which will grow, so long as sacrifice shall continue in its purity.
With sacrifice and the power it brings, with this enrichment of consciousness, comes the growing sense of eternalness, the conviction that within us is the everlasting, that our deepest consciousness is the rock which endures. So through sacrifice we come to riches and strength, ever-growing communion with others, deeper unity of heart, and with it immortality.
These are the qualities and powers of consciousness to which we are led through life’s storm and stress. Sacrifice, the opening of the doors of our hearts to others, is the clue. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Thus are we admonished of the purpose and potency of our life. We are as yet but at the threshold. We are but sounding the first notes of truly human life. We have still everything to learn of the potency of interlinked wills, the hidden treasures of shared consciousness.
In the power and beauty of a great orchestra, we may find an image of our life as it shall be, when the Master shall have attuned the instruments. There are, in the orchestra, the stringed instruments, violins, cellos, double-bass; there is the brass of trumpet and horn; there are the wood-winds and the drums. For each, there is its proper part. The violin must be perfect, penetrating, winsome, in its own range; not a note must err in the brass or wood; even the drum must be ceaselessly accorded.
Then, when each instrument is perfect and perfectly mastered, when the part of each is fully understood, loved and learned, and when, far greater task, all move together in perfect harmony, with unity of heart in diversity of mind, then can the Master bring forth terrible and magnificent music, stirring and swaying all hearts, and superbly thundering forth the secret of all things, human and divine, the mysteries of hate and love, of hell and earth and heaven, even to the choiring of archangels and cherubim.
So shall it be, in the great day when true human life begins, with the marvelously tempered hearts of all mankind. When the consciousness and will of each shall be strong, pure, resonant; when with perfect liberty and creative might, shall be united a perfect power of entry into the consciousness of others, a perfect power of allied will and unity of heart, then shall the Master of life make great music on these our human hearts, thus initiating us into infinities.
THE WILL IN THE SPIRIT.
We come now to the point where we have to sum up our conclusions concerning the Will and its part in life. We have considered the Will in the body, in the soul and in the spirit. Let us now look to the practical application.
The Will in the body we view as the general driving power of organic life; a force quite inexplicable by intellectual argument, but easily to be realized by exerting it, even in some quite simple act. In action, we find, indeed, that the Will is the primary force, while intellectual analysis, the reasoned explanation, is always secondary, later in date; a reflection, as it were, of the act, which has already had its life. So we draw this conclusion: that the Will is primary, a more fundamental part of us than is the arguing mind, and a force going deeper and higher.
The general driving power of organic life we found to be of the same nature as our conscious exertion of our wills, in any simple act, such as picking up a book. Such picking up, indeed, is the characteristic act of the search for food, which constitutes by far the greater part of bodily activity, whether we consider the life of any individual animal, or the general energies of life, through a wide range of living creatures. Therefore the stirring, vigorous movement of animal life implied by the search for food is normal and natural. The Will should be actively engaged in this direction, keeping the powers of observation alert, and all the bodily powers vigorous and in good working order. The whole of animal life teaches that the embodied man should be astir, exerting vigorous powers, perpetually bringing his will into play, in relation with the forces of nature in the material world; and that through this ceaseless interplay of the will and the forces without it, an immense and richly varied education and development are gained. So far as the moral issue is concerned, we see, therefore, that a life of ease, of sheltered inaction, of slackened will, must mean degeneration, loss of power, the end of development. Increasingly active effort and exertion of will is the lesson taught by the whole range of natural life among living things of this our various world.
We saw, again, that, whether they are conscious of it or not, the lives of the individuals of any species are closely related through this driving power of Will. The wills of neighboring individuals come into competition, as to their force, their exertion, the degree of alertness which accompanies them. A steady lifting, a raising of capacity and increase of power result from this mutual pressure. The Will, the driving power in animal life, works generally, and in a broad and sweeping way, so that a whole species is driven forward by a single comprehensive power. Under this driving power, as we saw, any species will tend to cover the face of the whole earth; bears lurk in the tropic woods of the Malay peninsula, and crack the bones of seals on the ice of the arctic sea; Scandinavian plants have found their way, we are told, across the north Atlantic, or over Asia, to the dorsal ridge of America; thence from Patagonia to the Antarctic continent, and thence to New Zealand. So that we may say that any form of life, whether plant or animal, would shortly fill the whole world, if free to move forward. This expanding, all-embracing energy, this comprehensive driving power, is inherent in every form of life. It is of the essence of life itself, the expression of the Will, in relation to all material forms.
To this universal extension in space corresponds, as we saw, an equally universal extension in time, or rather a driving power making for such extension, in the instinct and impulse of race-perpetuation. This we traced from its earliest form, the division of single-cell organisms into two or more exactly similar beings, each complete in itself, so that we cannot say that either is parent or offspring. The same process goes on indefinitely, so that, in a certain sense, any one-cell being is the original moneron, dating from the dawn of time, immortal backwards, and immortal forwards, so far as its inherent forces are concerned.
Greater richness and variety of form brought necessary death in its train, whose detriment was immediately repaired by the birth of new forms, continuity in time being thus secured by a new and wonderful expedient. The qualities and powers of life were gradually distributed between individuals of two sexes, thus securing a new and rich interplay of the energies of the Will in many directions of mutual helpfulness, the whole field of struggle for the life of others.
The Will in animal life acts, therefore, in such a way as to embrace the whole world, and to extend continuously through time.
Then coming to the realm of the soul, and using soul in the sense in which Saint Paul uses it, as the mid-realm of life between body and spirit, we traced the further energies of the Will. As we know of the world of the soul only in human beings, that is, in our own consciousness and the consciousness of our fellowmen and women, and can only divine the soul-life of animals less closely our kin, we then turned our inquiries toward the mental and emotional life which we find within ourselves.
Here, we found the Will to be wonderfully active, in quite new, yet analogous ways. When we come to human life, we are in presence of a great initial contrast with the animal world. In the animal world, development, whether of individual or of species or of the whole majestic series of living forms, is gained through the pressure of forces, taking the form of outward circumstance, of the general condition of nature, of the ways and tendencies of things. One may even say that this outer pressure is in a certain sense hostile to any given form or race of animals, that it is continually lying in wait to devour the unwary. This, it is true, is a possibly misleading metaphor, as it may be construed into an assertion of real hostility between nature and the forms that nature has produced, between the all-mother and her children. But while there is real pressure, there is no real hostility. Just as it is the even pressure, ceaselessly exerted on all sides, which enables the boat to float on the water, and, under the driving force of the oars, to move evenly forward, so the steady pressure of outer circumstance enables any living form to float upon an even keel, so to speak, and to move forward through the sea of things toward perfection. And just as the sea, though surging up against the cliff in waves, and then receding again, yet does steadily rise with the rising tide, so is it with life. There is a steady pressure and a steady gain. The manifold bubbles and ripples on the surface, which form only to break, and break only to form again, are like the creatures born only to die, and dying only to be replaced by new-born forms. But the sea of life remains, and as the tide rises, so does the level of life steadily rise.
There is, however, through the natural realm of life, a constant action and reaction, almost an opposition, between the living forms and the nature which surrounds them, just as there is an opposition between the waves and the cliff. It is true that, from a larger view, cliff and waves take their places together, as forms of world-life, and so too the living creatures and the forces which ceaselessly bear on them, take their places side by side in the total evolutionary life. But for the animals themselves, which are carrying on the struggle, this unity is not visible, or even knowable.
When we come to human life, as we said, we find a great contrast, or at least a great advance. Here, the struggle is no longer between each creature and the vast and seemingly hostile realm of outer nature, from which that creature is seeking to wrest a living. In human life, the struggle, whether of hatred or love, of opposition or unison, is between human souls, self-conscious human beings, invisible to the bodily eyes, because hid within animal forms, but clearly visible to the eyes of the intuition and the heart, clearly felt by the ever-active human will. And it is the charm and delight, the tragedy and the miracle of human life, that the forces are now in part put into our own hands, to make or to mar; the powers which carry on the large process of development, through race after race, epoch after epoch, are entrusted to human wills, and lie within the field of human consciousness, visible and knowable, at least in part. It is not in man that walketh, perhaps, to direct his own steps; but it is in man to take those steps or to forbear. He may choose his pathway through pleasant pastures, or up lonely mountain-heights, or along the shore of the much sounding sea. He may love or hate, prove faithful or perfidious, loyal or base, he may slay or heal, he may do good or evil to his fellows, he may seek vengeance on his enemies, or pour blessings on tender hearts who trust in him; and at each step, in each act, he has the assured and real consciousness of a free act of will, as definitely free as mine, when I lift my book from the table, or leave it there.
We have had few artists or poets or historians who could rise to the greatness of the theme of human life, and show how men and women weave the warp and woof of destiny. Yet all have in some sort shown it, and all have in some sort furthered the great work of human life itself: the bringing of human souls into contact with each other, so that, whether by the sovereign attraction of love, or the dire clash of hatred, they may learn more of each others’ being, gain some deeper insight into each others’ consciousness and life.
In human life, the forces are in our own hands, to make or to mar, but only in part. The Power which watches over us keeps out of our reach the great sane, corrective forces which overrule our self-will and whim, and guide the total current into the true channels. Yet it is no longer true, as it was in the animal world, that these forces are invisible and unknowable to us. We can and do guess at them, consciously thwart or further them, divine their wider purport, and express our conclusion in the deeper and more enduring purposes of our lives.
Yet there remains much, and perhaps the greater part, in human life, which is not comprehended, not even divined; there are pains and sorrows and griefs which we must meet in lamentable bewilderment, or in dumb perplexity. The complaining millions of men who darken in labor and pain know little, and divine little of the great song of life. Nor, when we look back over the ages of human struggle and endeavor, can we see any broad and certain path of life; only a glint and a gleam here and there in the darkness. A prophet or a saint arises from the darkened throng, with tender heart and gleaming eyes, and speaks of man’s divinity; but soon he sinks again, often torn down by those he would befriend and, illumine, and the great throng struggles onward in the darkness.
Thus the realm of the soul, as we have used the word, is a realm of blended light and darkness, of fitful gleams, of half-lights, shining forth to vanish again; of fierce joys and sorrows, of balanced hopes and fears, of good and evil in perpetual strife. Yet in human life, with all its imperfections on its head, we can discern golden threads of certain good. Out of the ruck of strife and struggle and sorrow, of ambition and rapacity and hate, no less than love and tenderness and service, there arises a constantly growing mutual knowledge, an ever increasing insight into the soul of man, a blending of consciousness and will, a greater degree of power and freedom, a deeper, wider and truer realization of the divine law in human life. We are all sharers in this expanding consciousness, whatever our private lives or purposes may be. And each epoch is something in advance of earlier epochs in this supreme matter of wider consciousness, of deeper entry into the souls of others.
Ever wider and deeper goes the reach of our consciousness, embracing more people, of more widely differing kinds. An alien is no longer a necessary enemy or a gazing-stock. There is more solidarity, because more common consciousness, between the unnumbered races of man. So we find in human life, what we found in animal life, the great driving power of the Will making for ever wider extension in space, ever further reach in time; shaping towards a human consciousness which shall embrace all mankind, and which shall be endless, timeless, everlasting.
When we come to the Will in the spirit, we find a new and marvelous advance. But let us first pick up the threads, the clues which have already led us a certain distance in that high realm.
In the spiritual life of man, as we defined it, we found the driving power of the Will manifest in certain ways. And, what was distinctive of this new realm, we found that now at last the Will makes manifest a complete purpose within the limits of each individual spirit of man. For the single animal, no complete purpose is apparent. Each must play its blind part in the darkness, born to struggle and die, that it may hand on an infinitesimal legacy to the great progress of living things. Even in the next realm, that of human life and of the soul, no completeness is visible. Every life is a fragment, lit by the glimmer of half-lights, echoing to mingled sobs and cries of joy, wrapt about with perplexity and confusion, tinged, on the whole, rather with tragedy than with hope; and hope, not realization or knowledge, being the highest word yet attainable.
In the realm of the spirit, we first reach a completed whole, or a whole whose completeness may be divined and followed out. This we saw in the first spiritual realm, that of wisdom. The Will, driving the spirit of man toward wisdom, does propose to him a complete purpose and goal; an aim, the more complete and not the less, because it is an infinite one, for only the infinite can be complete. The goal of wisdom, toward which the Will drives the spirit of man, is a consciousness of the world, of the wide universe of God; a consciousness which shall be all-embracing, reaching even to the hidden planets of the utmost stars; plunging into atomic depths, soaring to the heights that archangels look up to; a consciousness that shall include all things, and shall include them as they really are, seeing the universe not as the bodily eye sees it, but as it unfolds itself, with all its natural and spiritual glories, to the boundless vision of God.
That is the true end of wisdom. And every seeker for wisdom, whatever may be the views which he consciously and avowedly holds as to life or man or the soul, does unconsciously or consciously hold this high faith, that the power within him can indeed know the truth of things and see them as they really are, as they lie spread out in the consciousness of God. This is, whether consciously or implicitly, the driving power of all search for knowledge, the revelation of the Will to the spirit of man.
So with the greater mystery of love. Its ultimate aim is not less all-embracing, and in its miraculous being, love goes far deeper than wisdom. For, while wisdom seeks to know all things, love seeks to be all things; for it is the essence of love, to enter into the inmost heart and being of the beloved; through love only can all be perfected in one.
Both wisdom and love are under the driving power of the Will. They are sought and unfolded under an impulse which we find already there, when we go into the depths of our hearts, searching for the uttermost mysteries. We find the impulse to know, the impulse to love, already there before us, not of our planting, and yet of the essence of our very selves, more ourselves than anything else we know of ourselves.
And here we gain a clue to the last high mystery. In those same deep and hidden recesses of our hearts where love and wisdom dwell, where dwell the high impulses of the Will which drive us to know as God knows, to love as God loves, there is awaiting us a fuller revelation of the Will; and, as we seek, so shall we find. And here we come on the ultimate mystery, the solution of the dark and bewildering problems of animal and human life.
In animal life, the Will of each form touched a great web of outer forces, seemingly hostile, even when they made for development, as hunger and death seem hostile. In human life, there is a vaster web of forces, vaster because more inward, in a world that goes deeper, and is not limited to surface development; and here again the Will of the individual touches a web of forces, half in the light, half in the darkness, half hostile, half kind, with much of joy in them, much of tragedy, even more of perplexity.
But in the realm of the spirit, as we learn to enter it, we find a marvelous thing: the web of forces touched by the spirit of man is neither hostile nor alien, neither fitfully gleaming nor full of bewilderment. Opposition is no longer present, nor any barrier to our consciousness. To our wonder, we find the great powers which make for the highest development revealing themselves as powers within our own wills, within our own consciousness; as, in the highest sense, of the essence of ourselves, of our highest and most real selves.
The will to know, and to know all things, in the last analysis, as God knows them, I find within myself, not as an alien or hostile pressure, but as a part of my most real self; and, as I follow it, and, under its benign impulse and pressure, widen and deepen my consciousness, I am conscious of finding an ever deeper and more real self. In virtue of this perpetually increasing reward, the search for wisdom is among the deepest and most lasting joys of human life, and has ever called to the best in the best spirits.
So also of the impulse of love. The lover knows, it is true, “the love that makes him twice a man;” in finding the beloved, he has found himself. He will further know, when his consciousness deepens and ripens, that purer and stronger love which is not entangled with the impulse of race perpetuation, but which moves immediately between soul and soul. As he loves, as he puts himself aside in the constant sacrifices which all true love demands, he will learn that, in thus giving up his life, he first truly finds it, saving it unto life eternal. Love is not only or chiefly a thing of the perceiving consciousness, quiescent and placidly reflecting; it is even more a thing of the Will, conquering the impulses of self, and ministering with healing wings to the need of other souls. And this ceaseless exertion of the Will, at once sacrificial and creative, leads and initiates us into an increasingly deeper and more real knowledge of ourselves; as we sacrifice ourselves, we become ourselves; and, as we love others, we, in a certain sense, become them also, adding their consciousness and being to our own.
Nor is there any conceivable limit to this initiation into love. Every soul calls to us for love, as every child calls to the heart of a mother. Our future treasure is boundless and illimitable. And that treasure shall reveal itself as a new and marvelous opening of consciousness and will, which take on an ever more divine coloring and power.
So we find in the innermost recesses of the heart the new powers which, revealing themselves in human life, are destined to lead us forward to divine life. And they lead us by deepening, widening and transmuting our consciousness and will, cleansing the stains, unbending the hard knots of selfishness and self-will, illumining the bewilderment and doubt and materialism which have blackened human life; and, greatest marvel of all, with each heightening and deepening of consciousness and will, bringing us to realize that we have found a life which is far more truly ourselves; making us, as it were, for the first time known to ourselves, in this high illumination and inspiration.
Surely the greatest secret of all begins to gleam out to us from these luminous indications. If, with each broadening and deepening of will and consciousness, with each truer entrance into the spiritual power and knowledge that move the worlds, we find a truer and more real self, must it not be true, as the last and final secret, that the Power of all powers, which is at the heart of all, the Will of all wills that moved small things and great alike, the Consciousness which lies within and about all consciousness, the Love which inspires every impulse of love, is, at the center of all Being, verily our inmost, hidden and most real Life.
It is we ourselves, in that high and divine sense, who have wrought out the fabric of the worlds, making ever for higher and wider perfection. Ours was the Will that set the monera spinning through that first ocean; ours the Will that imposed fretful hunger and inevitable death upon animal forms, since through these alone they work upward, in time growing ready to build a tenement for the soul. Ours was the driving power which, interlocked among all human wills, worked out the epics and tragedies of life, in its half-darkness and half-glow, its miracles alternately gleaming forth and hidden, its splendid hopes, its chill fears and doubts that brought darkness to the heart. Ours is the Will which, speaking in the inmost recesses of the heart, prompts us to infinite wisdom, infinite love, leading us into a consciousness which shall be as the consciousness of God, nay, leading us into God’s inmost being.
We are far, as yet, in these early days, from having made good our high hope and calling; but the Will is there, the divine Will within our hearts; waiting to be heard and obeyed, as, in days of old, we obeyed the imperious call of hunger, the imperative command of our animal life; waiting to be obeyed as, at a later time, we obeyed the winsome and marvelous demands of human life. Let us, then, take up this new work, with serene, high faith; once more setting our wills in that high Will within our hearts, let us go forward with courage, making our entrance into new worlds.
Even in human life on its outermost surface we found in the Will a wonderful building power, so that mankind, using that power, has built on the surface of mother earth a new nature, a vestment of plants and living creatures formerly unknown to the great mother, and rather our children than hers. That same building power accompanied the Will even in the pristine ages of the world; the myriad forms of creatures are the evidence of it. But only in man do we find it obedient to conscious thought.
The same building power has worked in human life, in its deeper and more invisible realms, whether we think of the bonds of relationship which hold together groups of human beings in those societies, and by those laws, which are in essence invisible, and have their home in thought and Will, though their outward appearance and symbolic vestures are visible to our eyes; or whether we think of the finer webs of being, embodying purer and more subtle thought, which we call poetry and art, history and science. Here, too, the Will is ever a builder. Again, in the realm of emotional and psychical life, we found each motion of the Will accompanied by instant building, in the finer matter of psychical and mental life. So incessant and inevitable is this building power of the Will, that our inner psychical selves are at once the builders and the dwellings; by thought, they build themselves homes of thoughts, and these homes become themselves.
So, we may believe, will it be with the grander and more majestic realm of the Will, which now beckons us to enter. There, too, shall we build, making for ourselves a more lasting dwelling. Even now, even in outward things, we inevitably foreshadow that high habitation, that vesture that grows not old. We may not think of railroads and steamships as spiritual things, yet they are living parables of the soul, for they are the means of bringing together human beings, and so widening the consciousness of each toward the consciousness of all. So also our telegrams and newspapers tend to bring all mankind into consciousness of the same things, and therefore into the same consciousness, day by day; thus working, blindly it is true, yet infallibly, for the high apotheosis of man. When we build our houses and warm them, are we not trying to make permanent a fragment of summer; when we light them, are we not seeking to conserve something of the day even by night; impelled thereto by the soul, which secretly knows of everlasting summer, of perpetual day? Are not these houses of ours but symbols and prophecies of the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, the unfading abode of the Soul itself?