Certainly the problem as to the degree to which environment determines life is an interesting one, but may it not be reversed and stand as the problem to what degree life controls and fashions the environment? Does not the environment change with the life in a corresponding evolutionary process? "Every spirit builds its house." Then, too, the thing we call life is not composed exclusively of character and circumstances. There enters into it a third element,—that of the unknown.
The environment of Tennyson, for instance, in his early youth, was that of the limited, even though thoughtful and refined life of the son of a country clergyman of modest means; as his powers expanded and developed his environment kept pace with it in extension of breadth. Is it not, then, true that a life really belongs to the environment it creates for himself, rather than to that in which it is first nurtured? "It doth not yet appear what we shall be" applies to the possibilities of life in the present as well as in that future which lies beyond the change we call death. The divine electric spark leaps through the atmosphere and communicates its kindling power. The inner force of the spirit works outward and begins to shape and fashion its own world. Environment is simply another name for that series "of the more stately mansions" that each one may build according to the power that worketh in him. A great sorrow comes; or an overwhelming joy, on which one rises to heights of ecstasy, to the very Mount of Transfiguration itself, and thus transcends all former limits and creates his new environment, whose walls are transparent to the sunrise flame and through which the glory enters in. What has he to do with that far-away, opaque, limited environment into which he was born? No more than has the giant oak, tossing its branches under the stars, to do with the acorn cup out of which it sprang. Let one realize, ever so faintly, even, the miracle of possibilities that may unfold, and his life is uplifted into a richness and a peace, and a serene confidence that carries with it the essential essence of all that is best and noblest in its past, and all that is potential in its infinite future. The problem evolves into a definite work to be fulfilled, and this work, in turn, leads to another problem involving its demonstration, in actual performance, as well; and by this alternation life progresses,—growing ever larger and deeper and more exalted with its increasing power. In this way man produces his circumstances—creates his outer conditions. His successive environments become the expressions of his inner life and energy in their series of development and growth.
But this growth, this development, may be stimulated or retarded. It depends entirely upon the degree to which one may relate himself to the spiritual energy of the divine atmosphere, ever ready to pour itself, with unlimited power, through every receptive channel. And this energy is the Divine Will, and entering into it man does not lose his own free choice, but only enters into that which makes his conscious choice vital and magnetic with infinite power of achievement.
Maurice Maeterlinck offered a fascinating contribution to this range of discussion, in the course of which he said:—
"One would say that man had always the feeling that a mere infirmity of his mind separates him from the future. He knows it to be there, living, actual, perfect, behind a kind of wall, around which he has never ceased to turn since the first days of his coming on this earth. Or rather, he feels it within himself and known to a part of himself; only, that importunate and disquieting knowledge is unable to travel, through the too narrow channels of his senses, to his consciousness, which is the only place where knowledge acquires a name, a useful strength, and, so to speak, the freedom of the human city. It is only by glimmers, by casual and passing infiltrations, that future years, of which he is full, of which the imperious realities surround him on every hand, penetrate to his brain. He marvels that an extraordinary accident should have closed almost hermetically to the future that brain which plunges into it entirely, even as a sealed vessel plunges, without mixing with it, into the depths of a monstrous sea that overwhelms it, entreats it, teases it, and caresses it with a thousand billows."
Time and space are the two dimensions which differentiate the physical and the spiritual worlds; the higher the degree of spiritual development and advancement, the less is the individual limited and hampered and fettered by these two conditions. One may get a certain analogy on it by realizing to how much greater extent the infant or the child is bound by the conditions of Space and Time than is the man or the woman. To the child the idea of the next year is, practically, an eternity; while the man calmly and confidently makes his plans for the next year, or for five years or ten years later; with a matter-of-course assurance. The next year to the man is not so remote as the next day is to the child. So by this analogy it is not difficult to realize that when one is released from the physical world and advances into the realm of the subtle and potent forces of the ethereal world, with his faculties responsive to the larger environment,—it is not difficult to realize that he is increasingly free from these conditions that are so strong in their power of limitation over the mortal life.
"It is," continues Maurice Maeterlinck, "quite incomprehensible that we should not know the future. Probably a mere nothing, the displacement of a cerebral lobe, the resetting of Broca's convolution in a different manner, the addition of a slender network of nerves to those which form our consciousness,—any one of these would be enough to make the future unfold itself before us with the same clearness, the same majestic amplitude as that with which the past is displayed on the horizon, not only of our individual life? but also of the life of the species to which we belong. A singular infirmity, a curious limitation of our intellect, causes us not to know what is going to happen to us, when we are fully aware of what has befallen us. From the absolute point of view to which our imagination succeeds in rising, although it cannot live there, there is no reason why we should not see that which does not yet exist, considering that that which does not yet exist in its relation to us must necessarily have its being already, and manifest itself somewhere. If not, it would have to be said that, where Time is concerned, we form the centre of the world, that we are the only witnesses for whom events wait so that they may have the right to appear and to count in the eternal history of causes and effects. It would be as absurd to assert this for Time as it would be for Space,—that other not quite so incomprehensible form of the twofold infinite mystery in which our whole life floats."
The latest progress in this new century is that of overcoming space. It is being overcome; it is being almost annihilated. When on the Atlantic Coast we call up a friend in Chicago and speak with him any hour; when we cable across three thousand miles of water and receive a speedy reply; when wireless telegraphy wafts its message through the etheric currents of the air; when the electric motor is about to revolutionize all our preconceived ideas of distance and journeyings,—we see how space is being dominated and is no longer to be one of the conditions that limit man's activities. To a degree, overcoming space is also overcoming time. In an essay of Emerson's, written somewhere in the middle of the nineteenth century, he speaks of something as being worth "going fifty miles to see." Fifty miles, at that time, represented a greater space than three thousand miles represent at the present. Regarding the condition of space Maeterlinck further says: "Space is more familiar to us, because the accidents of our organism place us more directly in relation with it and make it more concrete. We can move in it pretty freely, in a certain number of directions, before and behind us. That is why no traveller would take it into his head to maintain that the towns which he has not yet visited will become real only at the moment when he sets his foot within their walls. Yet this is very nearly what we do when we persuade ourselves that an event which has not yet happened does not yet exist."
The only explanation of certain phases of the phenomena of life is in the theory that life is twofold; that what we call life—in the sense of experiences and events and circumstances—is simply the result, the precipitation into the physical world, of the events and experiences that have already occurred to us on the spiritual side of life, and that they occur here because they have occurred there. Maeterlinck says further (in this paper entitled "The Foretelling of the Future"): "But I do not intend, in the wake of so many others, to lose myself in the most insoluble of enigmas. Let us say no more about it, except this alone,—that Time is a mystery which we have arbitrarily divided into a past and a future, in order to try to understand something of it. In itself, it is almost certain that it is but an immense, eternal, motionless Present, in which all that takes place and all that will take place takes place immutably, in which To-morrow, save in the ephemeral mind of man, is indistinguishable from Yesterday or To-day." The question is raised by Mr. Maeterlinck as to whether the clairvoyant who foretells to one future events gets his knowledge from the subliminal consciousness of the person himself. He relates a series of experiences that he had in Paris with all sorts and degrees of the professed seers, and he says:—
"It is very astonishing that others can thus penetrate into the last refuge of our being, and there, better than ourselves, read thoughts and sentiments at times forgotten or rejected, but always long-lived, or as yet unformulated. It is really disconcerting that a stranger should see further than ourselves into our own hearts. That sheds a singular light on the nature of our inner lives. It is vain for us to keep watch upon ourselves, to shut ourselves up within ourselves; our consciousness is not water-tight, it escapes, it does not belong to us, and though it requires special circumstances for another to install himself there and take possession of it, nevertheless it is certain that, in normal life, our spiritual tribunal, our for interieur,—as the French have called it, with that profound intuition which we often discover in the etymology of words,—is a kind of forum, or spiritual market place, in which the majority of those who have business there come and go at will, look about them and pick out the truths, in a very different fashion and much more freely than we would have to this day believed."
Mr. Maeterlinck reiterates that it is incredible that we should not know the future. The truth is that it is even more than incredible; it is unpardonably stupid, and the great desideratum is to so develop and unfold the spiritual faculties that they will discern the experiences on the spiritual side,—those which will, later on, precipitate themselves into the mortal life, and that will be "knowing the future." That is to say, if we can read our spiritual past, we then know our earthly future; for that which has been, in the inner experience, shall be, in the outer experience. Mr. Maeterlinck says:—
"I cannot think that we are not qualified to know beforehand the disturbances of the elements, the destiny of the planets, of the earth, of empires, peoples, and races. All this does not touch us directly, and we know it in the past, thanks only to the artifices of history. But that which regards us, that which is within our reach, that which is to unfold itself within the little sphere of years, a secretion of our spiritual organism, that envelops us in Time, even as the shell or the cocoon envelops the mollusc or the insect in space; that, together with all the external events relating to it, is probably recorded in that sphere. In any case, it would be much more natural that it were so recorded than comprehensible that it be not. There we have realities struggling with an illusion; and there is nothing to prevent us from believing that, here as elsewhere, realities will end by overcoming illusion. Realities are what will happen to us, having already happened in the history that overhangs our own, the motionless and superhuman history of the universe. Illusion is the opaque veil woven with the ephemeral threads called Yesterday, To-day, and To-morrow, which we embroider on those realities. But it is not indispensable that our existence should continue the eternal dupe of that illusion. We may even ask ourselves whether our extraordinary unfitness for knowing a thing so simple, so incontestable, so perfect and so necessary as the future, would not form one of the greatest subjects for astonishment to an inhabitant of another star who should visit us....
"Moreover, we must not believe that the march of events would be completely upset if we knew it beforehand. First, only they would know the future, or a part of the future, who would take the trouble to learn it; even as only they know the past, or a part of their own present, who have the courage and the intelligence to examine it. We should quickly accommodate ourselves to the lessons of this new science, even as we have accommodated ourselves to those of history. We should soon make allowance for the evils we could not escape and for inevitable evils. The wiser among us, for themselves, would lessen the sum total of the latter; and the others would meet them half-way, even as now they go to meet many certain disasters which are easily foretold. The amount of our vexations would be somewhat decreased, but less than we hope; for already our reason is able to foresee a portion of our future, if not with the material evidence that we dream of, at least with a moral certainty that is often satisfying; yet we observe that the majority of men derive hardly any profit from this easy fore-knowledge. Such men would neglect the counsels of the future, even as they hear, without following it, the advice of the past."
Not to know the future is extremely inconvenient, to say the least, and it may present itself as the next most needed advance in progress. The question is in the air; the demand for its solution may increase, and demands penetrate the unknown and reconstruct it for the higher use of man. Meanwhile, as Mr. Maeterlinck continues:—
"Our life must be lived while we wait for the word that shall solve the enigma, and the happier, the nobler our life, the more vigorous shall it become, and we shall have the more courage, clear-sightedness, boldness to seek and desire the truth.... We should live as though we were always on the eve of the great revelation, and we should be ready with welcome, with, warmest and keenest and fullest, most heartfelt and intimate welcome. And whatever the form it shall take on the day that it comes to us, the best way of all to prepare for its fitting reception is to crave for it now, to desire it as lofty, as perfect, as vast, as ennobling as the soul can conceive. It must needs be more beautiful, glorious, and ample than the best of our hopes. For when it differs therefrom or even frustrates them, it must of necessity bring something nobler, loftier, nearer to the nature of man, for it will bring us truth. To man, though all that he value go under, the intimate truth of the universe must be wholly, pre-eminently admirable. And though on the day it unveils, our meekest desires turn to ashes and float on the wind, still there shall linger within us all we have prepared; and the admirable will enter into our soul, the volume of its waters being as the depth of the channel that our expectation has fashioned."
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[Sidenote: In Proportion to Power.]
May it not be that the degree to which one is enabled to dominate his own life in the sense of controlling and selecting and grouping its outer events is precisely in proportion to the spiritual power that he has achieved? Nor has this spiritual power any conceivable relation to what is currently known as occultism, or a thing to be attained by any series of prescribed outer actions. There has sprung up a species of literature with explicit directions for "concentration" and "meditation" and one knows not what,—directions to spend certain hours of the day gazing upon a ten-penny nail or something quite as inconsequential, and a more totally demoralizing and negative series of performances can hardly be imagined. But all this is not even worth denunciation. The only real spiritual power is that of the union of the soul with the divine.
"Lift up your hearts." "We lift them up unto the Lord."
In these lines lies the secret of all that makes for that mental and moral energy whose union is spiritual power. The question of what happens to one daily and constantly, as weeks and months go on, is the one most practical question of life. In it is involved all one's personal happiness as well as all his power for usefulness. To feel that this ever-flowing current of events is something entirely outside one's own choice or volition is to stand helpless—if not hopeless—before the spectacle of life. It is out of this aimless and chaotic state that resort is had to the seeking of all kinds of divination, omens, prophecies, and foreshadowings, with the result of more and more completely separating the individual from his legitimate activities and endeavor, and leading him to substitute for spiritual realities a mere false and mirage-like outlook,—and instead of that rational activity and high endeavor that create events and increasingly control their conditions, there is merely an impatient and restless expectation of something or other that may suddenly occur to transform the entire outlook.
The unforeseen events do occur, and they are the crowning gift and grace and sweetness of life. But they are the product, the result, the fine inflorescence of intense spiritual activity, not of stagnation and idleness. "It might almost be said that there happens to one only that which he desires," says Maeterlinck: "it is time that on certain external events an influence is of the feeblest, but we have all-powerful action on that which these events shall become in ourselves—in other words on their spiritual part, on what is radiant, undying within them.... There are those with whom this immortal part absorbs all; these are like islands that have sprung up in the ocean; for they have found immovable anchorage whence they issue commands that their destiny must needs obey.... Whatever may happen is lit up by their inward life. When you love, it is not your love that forms part of your destiny, but the knowledge of self that you will have found, deep down in your love—this it is that will help you to fashion your life. If you have been deceived, it is not the deception that matters, but the forgiveness whereto it leads, and the loftiness, wisdom, completeness of this forgiveness—by these shall your life be steered to destiny's haven of brightness and peace; by these shall your eyes see more clearly.... Let us always remember that nothing befalls us that is not of the nature of ourselves. There comes no adventure but means to our soul the shape of our every-day thoughts.... And none but yourself shall you meet on the highway of fate.... Events seem as the watch for the signal we hoist from within."
The inner life that is lived—the life of thought, purpose, aspiration, and prayer—dominates and determines the outer life. It creates it. And when one feels helplessly drifting, at the mercy of events, his only safety lies in a more positive and abounding energy; in deeper purpose and a firmer grasp on his work, a higher and diviner trend to his thought, and a closer clinging to the divine promises.
"In man," says Balzac, "culminates a visible finite universe; in him begins a universe invisible and infinite,—two worlds unknown to each other." But one's life always belongs far more to his future than to his past. He is more closely and truly related to that which he shall be than to that which he has been; as the flower, the plant, the tree, is in more intimate and vital relation with the air and sunshine than with the dark ground in which the seed germinated. It retains its hold on the kingdom of the earth, but it has achieved a new and a higher relation with the kingdom of the air. Man's relations with the invisible and the infinite universe are his truest and most determining relations. And these are governed and are constantly extended by his power of will. The power of will is so akin to the divine energy that it is the power through which, and by means of which, the closest relation with the divine energy can be effected. Man, by the power of will, unites his life with the life of God; he so relates himself to the divine energy that he becomes receptive to it, and when this irresistible force pours itself into his life all nobler realizations become possible; all sublimest aspiration may express itself in the daily quality of life, and fulfil its visions in actual tasks and deeds.
Nothing is ever hopeless. There is no situation nor complication that has not its key simply in lifting up the heart to God; in willing, through prayer, to work, as well as to walk, with Him; and in praying, through power of will brought to bear in all its resistless intensity of aspiration, that the power of God may work through all the conditions of the human life.
The subjective or subliminal self is capable of extending the mental faculties in a way almost undreamed of by the ordinary consciousness. "There is in the mind a faculty," says a writer on this subject, "which, if it receives the correct impression, is able to correct the mental and physical life of a person and produce a manifest impression on his environment, the secret of which is conscious and concentrated attention under direction of the will of the individual.
"The subjective mind is a distinct entity. It occupies the whole human body, and, when not opposed in any way, it has absolute control over all the functions, conditions, and sensations of the body. While the objective mind has control of all our voluntary functions and motions, the subjective mind controls all the silent, involuntary, and vegetative functions. This subjective mind can see without the use of physical eyes. It perceives by intuition. It has the power to communicate with others without the use of ordinary physical means. It can read the thoughts of others. It receives intelligence and transmits it to people at a distance. Distance offers no resistance against the successful missions of the subjective mind. It never forgets anything, It never sleeps. It is capable of sustaining an existence independent of the body. It never dies. It is the living soul."
That "distinct entity" which has been called the "subjective mind" is probably more accurately defined as the real person, the man himself, the immortal being who inhabits for a time the physical body. The development of this immortal self by an intellectual and moral and religious progress is the real business of life,—the raison d'etre of man's sojourn on earth. There is no more important truth to be grasped at the present time than that this culture and development of the spiritual self, or this spiritualization of life, is in no sense a matter of incantations and mysterious rites, but is only to be achieved through faith in God, through prayer and the constant uplifting of the spirit to the Divine. The inspiration of life lies in the unceasing effort to unite all the conscious inner life with the Divine will and guidance. The problem that presents itself to the instructors of the deaf, dumb, and blind is in this development and liberation of the spiritual self, that the psychic powers may, to some extent, take the place of the outer senses that are closed. The physical mechanism of communication with the visible world is defective, and that perception, which is spiritual sight, must overcome blindness; that swift recognition which is spiritual hearing must overcome deafness; and the wonderful delicacy and intense keenness that these perceptions develop in those with defective senses is itself an incontrovertible proof of the reality of the inner spiritual being that for a time inhabits the physical body. The observation of the deaf and blind leads one to see that sight and hearing in all people vary in degree, and that a vast number of people are partially defective in these senses, and that all mankind are defective beyond a given point. There are vibrations too fine to be detected by the human ear; and the sight of the eye is, as is well known, entirely limited to a certain degree of distance even in those whose eyesight is the keenest. Clairvoyance and clairaudience are considered as abnormal and phenomenal gifts, and as in no way conceivable, nor even desirable, as general and usual powers for every one. Yet what are they but the sight and hearing of the spiritual man, the development of the powers of the subtle body transcending those of the physical body? This ethereal or psychic body is in correspondence with the ethereal world. It is formed to be an inhabitant of that world in which it finds itself the moment it is released by death. But if sufficiently developed to take command, so to speak, while here, of the will and the consciousness and all the mechanism of the physical body, it then brings to bear upon practical, daily life all this infinite and irresistible energy of the higher planes with which it is in receptive relation. Then, whether in the body or out of the body matters little in the responsive communion with those who have passed through death. "Could the spiritual vision of the present man be unfolded but for a moment, to realize the mighty forces of nature that will one day be at his command, he would become dizzy at the contemplation of such wondrous possibilities," says a recent writer. "The electro-magnetic energy that holds worlds in their orbits, and neutralizes the power of gravitation, is but one of those powers that awaits the growing genius of man to utilize. The magnetic force is the attractive or centripetal power; the electric force is the repellent or centrifugal power. A machine will be invented, in the near future, that will combine these into a single electro-magnetic force, and with this force the power of gravitation will be neutralized. Then the world's traffic will be as readily carried in the air as now it is upon the ground. The forces of the Universe await only the dissipation of ignorance, selfishness, and greed to bless and harmonize the world."
The outlook for the twentieth century in its grandeur; in the unfolding and expanding powers of man, and the new and deeper insights into the hidden forces of nature, can hardly be exaggerated. We stand on the threshold of a new heaven and a new earth. The drama of life is to be uplifted to a higher plane, to the realm of beauty and blessedness and radiance and joy.
THE ETHEREAL REALM.
It is henceforth open to science to transcend all we now think we know of matter and to gain new glimpses of a profounder scheme of cosmic law.
—SIR WILLIAM CROOKES.
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We exist also in a world of ether;—that is to say, we are constructed to respond to a system of laws,—ultimately continuous, no doubt, with the laws of matter, but affording a new, a generalized, a profounder conception of the Cosmos. So widely different, indeed, is this new aspect of things from the old, that it is common to speak of the ether as a newly-known environment. On this environment our organic existence depends as absolutely as on the material environment, although less obviously. In ways which we cannot fathom, the ether is at the foundation of our physical being. Perceiving heat, light, electricity, we do but recognise in certain conspicuous ways,—as in perceiving the "X rays" we recognise in a way less conspicuous,—the pervading influence of ethereal vibrations which in range and variety far transcend our capacity of response.
Within, beyond, the world of ether,—as a still profounder, still more generalized aspect of the Cosmos,—must lie, as I believe, the world of spiritual life. That the world of spiritual life does not depend upon the existence of the material world I hold as now proved by actual evidence. That it is in some way continuous with the world of ether I can well suppose. But for our minds there must needs be a "critical point" in any such imagined continuity; so that the world where life and thought are carried on apart from matter, must certainly rank again as a new, a metetherial environment. In giving it this name I expressly imply only that from our human point of view it lies after or beyond the ether, as metaphysic lies after or beyond physics. I say only that what does not originate in matter or ether originates there; but I well believe that beyond the ether there must be not one stage only, but countless stages in the infinity of things.
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The glorious consummation toward which organic evolution is tending is the production of the highest and most perfect psychical life.—JOHN FISKE.
The recognition of the untold force of thought is productive of marvellous results and opens as unlimited possibilities as the discovery and the increasing application of the power of electricity. The force of thought—the most intense potency in the universe—has always existed, as has that of electricity. It only awaited recognition. Telepathy is just as entirely the manifestation of a law as is gravitation; and gravitation existed long before it was recognized. The entire question of the conduct of life is included in the true development and right use of thought. The entire problem of achievement, of success, lies in it. The supreme end of all religious teaching is the culture of right thought. It is the power that determines all social relations, all opportunities for usefulness, and all personal achievement. The right thought opens the right door. There is absolutely no limit to its power, and each individual may increase and strengthen his grasp of it and develop it to an indefinite and unforeseen degree. One actual method of the use of thought is to use it, creatively, for the immediate future. The time that is just before one is plastic to any impress. It has not yet taken form in events or circumstances, and it can, therefore, be controlled and determined. One may sit quietly and alone for a little time at night, calling up all his thought force, and by means of it create the next day. The events of the day will follow the impression made by the thought. One can thus will himself, so to speak, with the successful currents. He can create his atmosphere and environment, and can open wide the portals of his life to beauty and happiness.
The law of telepathy is as supreme in the spiritual universe as are the laws of gravitation and attraction in the physical universe. The law that holds the constellations in their courses is not more in absolute evidence than that which governs the flashes of perception between two persons in a finer and more subtle communication than words, spoken or written, could possibly convey. But while there is no law more universally and impressively in evidence, there is also no law so totally unformulated, so entirely, it would seem, outside the domain of conscious recognition and will. One endeavors to send a telepathic message to his friend—and no impress is made. Again, when he has made no effort at all, nor even thought of trying, the telepathic message is received. The magnetic sensitiveness of the spirit to thought currents is astounding. It has long seemed to many persons that the very air conveyed messages—and so it does. One may "call up" another, in either this world or in the ethereal world, at any time, simply by directing to him a strong current of thought. The thousand little things generally ranked as coincidence are really illustrations of this law. One thinks intently of a friend whom, perhaps, he has not met, or heard from, for years, and, presto, a letter, or the person himself appears. One can settle misunderstandings, convey counsel, entreaty, instruction, or comprehension,—all by the quality of the thought he sends forth. All this is a part of the phenomena of spiritual life. We must not make the mistake of imagining we become spiritual beings only by death. We are spiritual beings now and here, and our real life is, even in the present, in the spiritual world, and carried on by means of spiritual forces. Everything which is intellectual and moral is of the spirit. Such men as Edison and Tesla and Marconi are dealing with the higher spiritual forces. When Cyrus Field laid the Atlantic cable, it was a work of the spiritual rather than of the physical world. So are the vast works of commerce, of transportation, of building, the discovery of new countries, and the promulgation of the higher civilization in every form. We must not regard spiritual life as limited to mere religious or devotional rites and ceremonies. These have their place, and an important one; but they are included among a thousand other things that make up the life of the spirit. Man is primarily and permanently a spiritual being, and only incidentally and temporarily a physical being.
Still the further problem confronts us: How shall we consciously and intelligently control telepathic communication as we now control our communication by speech, letters, or telegrams? A curious instance of unconscious and unaccountable telepathy is the following: There were two individuals who had never met, but who held some mutually antagonistic conceptions of each other,—conceptions that were, too, perhaps more or less mutually erroneous, and this condition had lasted over a prolonged period of time. Then one of these persons had the experience of waking in the night, simply engulfed in an overwhelming wave of tender and compassionate feeling toward the other: seeing, as if with spiritual vision, a nature unstrung, hardly responsible, and one that invited only the most infinite tenderness and care. This wave of new and perfectly clear perception was like a magnetic trance. It was an hour of absolute spiritual clairvoyance, and the evidence was furnished by a letter received, the next morning, from a mutual friend, which entirely substantiated and corroborated the telepathic impression that had been experienced in the night. Now the scientific question is: From whence did this impression proceed? Was it direct telepathy between the two persons concerned? Was it a clairvoyant reading of the letter that was en route during the night? Who can decide? The special point here is that these most vivid and intense experiences are largely, if not entirely, encountered unconsciously. They suddenly—come. One asks for them—and they do not come? Now how are we to pluck out the heart of the mystery?
The moment one realizes himself as a spiritual being, belonging by right to the spiritual world; one whose true interests are in and of that realm, and to whom communion with the Divine is the very breath of existence, the one elixir of life, that moment he asserts himself aright. From that hour his life becomes a significant factor in true progress. Prayer may be a formal and ceremonial act, and mean nothing: it may be the absolute surrender of one's soul to the Divine, when it enters behind the veil into the very glory of God. This spiritual truth is closely linked with certain scientific facts. The scientists have theories of inner ether by means of which psychic power is conveyed and which translate it into action, as the wire translates the electric current to express a message. A scientist asserts a new theory that there are no varying states of ether, but that all space is filled with matter in various states of vibration; and that what we had heretofore called air and ether is simply all one substance in degrees of lower and higher range. It is conceivable that this latest idea may approximate to the truth more than any previous theory. No one has yet discovered those forces of nature by means of which sense relates itself to spirit. There is certainly some great law, still unrecognized and unformulated, which acts, and which is acted upon by human beings, irrespective of any physical means; but why these laws sometimes do and sometimes do not produce given results, no one can tell. There are other existing laws in the physical world that transcend scientific scrutiny. The marvellous results of chemical combinations, the miracle nature of electricity and all its phenomena, fade into absolute nothingness beside the higher marvels of the action of spirit. The crude and merely approximate truth must be that in each human being is a part of the divine being; that this divine element may be nurtured and strengthened by living in its native atmosphere of spiritual life,—in the atmosphere of peace, joy, and love; and that this potency of God and of man, so far as he relates himself to God, can act upon that substance that fills all space; that this substance, whether it be ether, or whether it be matter differentiated in degree of vibration, is intensely susceptible, in the most infinitely delicate way, to thought, which acts upon it as physical force can act on physical matter. To realize intelligently one's relatedness to God, and one's own power over this subtle matter, whatever it be that fills all space, is to arise in newness of life. It is to realize one's self as a spiritual being, here and now, and an inhabitant of the spiritual world. It is to realize that one's relation to the physical world is a merely incidental thing,—a fact that has its purpose, its responsibilities, as a phase of development, and which it is most important to use aright; but which is inevitably transient.
Day-dreams, the habitual meditations that go on of themselves in the mind, are prophecies and potencies. They are the creative factors of future states. "Out of the heart are the issues of life."
It is a question of degree,—so much love, so much force to act upon outer affairs. He who finds his currents of thought verging to the unkind, the ungenerous, the inimical; whose mind, in its unconscious action, is in a discordant state, fretting at circumstances, or persons,—is doing himself the gravest injury. He is creating, on the unseen side, which is the most potent and determining side, conditions which he must live out sooner or later.
It would seem, if one may judge from the data of telepathic experiences, that the power belongs to the sub-conscious self, or, as we may prefer to call it, to the spiritual self, and does not relate itself to the conscious intellectual life and the conscious will. If this deduction is true—what then? Can we not relate our consciously intelligent life to our unconscious spiritual life? Not only, indeed, that we may, but that we must,—for it is the next step in spiritual advancement.
The time has come in the era of progress when humanity begins to realize its spiritual development. All the signs of the times point it out. The discoveries of higher laws constantly being made, are an impressive attestation that register the movement. With the new century came in Tesla's discovery of the vacuum tube and its wonderful light; and hardly a week later came the announcement of the discovery of a perpetual light found by a certain chemical combination placed in a glass globe, which, when the air was exhausted and the globe sealed, would burn as long as the globe lasts. The discoverer claims that there is but one force in all nature,—that of vibration; that all space is pervaded by matter, which is energy. Certainly the world is on the eve of new revelations, and life is to be lifted up, even here and now, to the Divine plane.
Perhaps the most practical counsel in the way of determining one's own future control of these telepathic conditions is conveyed in the words: "Begin now the eternal life of trustful consecration and sanctified service, consciously drawing your innermost life from God."
This absolute personal control of each man over his own future lies in a twofold power: the one being that integrity, moral purpose, aspirations, have a creative power of the most potent character; and the other being in that one attracts to himself the spiritual companionship and sympathetic co-operation of just such quality as his own. There is an objection, often made to the faith in the companionship and communion with those in the Unseen,—that only those of a lower order in the life beyond death are attracted into the sphere of this world. Nothing could be more remote from the truth. One might as well refuse all social intercourse with those in this world, on the plea that if he have companionship at all it would be of a lower order, and therefore he will have none. Now the order of one's companions and associates depends on himself. If he is noble and exalted, he does not attract nor is he attracted to the base and the unworthy: and only more deeply and unfailingly does this law hold true in the realm of spirit. One attracts to himself from the unseen world companionship of the same order and quality as that of his own spirit, with the exception that in proportion to the purity of his aspiration does this quality of companionship come to him of a still higher order than his own. Thus one creates his own world. He need not abjectly feel that he must accept sorrow, trial, defeat, and disaster at the moment, because compensation somewhere awaits him. The law of transmutation supersedes the law of compensation. One may bring to bear, at the moment, the potent force that transforms all: that changes dullness into radiance, trial into joy, depression into exaltation. And how? Simply by bringing to bear on the events and conditions of the hour the intense and creative potency of spiritual power. By means of this we shall certainly gain those "new glimpses of a profounder scheme of cosmic law" to which Sir William Crookes refers and which his vision discerns as open to science.
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[Sidenote: A Scientific Fact.]
It is a scientific fact that any vibration set up in the ether persists to an unlimited degree, communicating itself to that which is in correspondence with its rate of vibration. This, of course, is the explanation of the phenomena involved in wireless telegraphy, and is equally the explanation of the phenomena involved in telepathy. At a meeting of the Society of Arts in May of 1901, Professor Ayrton, commenting on Marconi's system, said that we "are gradually coming within thinkable distance of the realization of a prophecy he had ventured to make four years before, at a time when, if a person wanted to call to a friend he knew not where, he would call in a very loud electro-magnetic voice, heard by him who had the electro-magnetic ear, silent to him who had it not. 'Where are you?' he would say. A faint reply would come, 'I am at the bottom of a coal mine, or crossing the Andes, or in the middle of the Atlantic.' Or, perhaps, in spite of all the calling, no reply would come, and the person would then know that his friend was dead. Think of what this would mean, of the calling which goes on every day from room to room of a house, and then think of that calling extending from pole to pole,—not a noisy babble, but a call audible to him who wants to hear, and absolutely silent to all others. It would be almost like dreamland and ghostland,—not the ghostland cultivated by a heated imagination, but a real communication from a distance, based on true physical laws."
Yet even this speculation fails to keep pace with the advance of truth, for there is no death, in the sense in which Professor Ayrton refers to it here, as a state of unconsciousness which no message can reach, and from which no reply can come. On the contrary, that transformation we call death is a condition of far more intense consciousness, of being far more alive and far more responsive to the call and the thought. We are learning to realize the literal truth of the phrase in the Bible, "dead in trespasses and sins." So far as one is in sins and faults and defects he is dead. Spiritual vitality is in goodness alone. So far as one endeavors to follow after righteousness, to achieve and live in truth, honor, and love, he is alive; so far as he fails in this he is dead, and this, quite irrespective of the fact as to whether he is in or out of his physical body. This present world has its dead people walking around, it is true: eating, drinking, dressing, travelling, taking part in the average activities of daily life, but dead, all the same, or, at most, only partially alive,—the "dead souls," as Gogol well terms them. The vital truth of immortality is to be immortal now, to-day; to be spiritually alive, spiritually conscious, and with this achieved, whether in or out of the body is immaterial. That becomes a mere detail of no special significance. Given the condition of spiritual vitality, and the electro-magnetic call would receive its reply from the friend who had "shed" his body.
Sir William Preece, in a recent address before the Royal Society, remarked:—
"If any of the planets be populated (say Mars) with beings like ourselves, having the gift of language and the knowledge to adapt the great forces of nature to their wants, then if they could oscillate immense stores of electrical energy to and fro in electrical order, it would be possible for us to hold communication, by telephone, with the people of Mars."
It is hardly a bolder or more startling speculation to contemplate the establishment of intelligent and definite communication with Mars than it would have been, a half-century ago, to contemplate communication across three thousand miles of ocean without visible means. An evening's observation of the heavens, made recently through the great telescope of the Naval Observatory in Washington, revealed, in one of its phases, a sunrise in the moon. One gazed at the dark edge of a mountain range to see it suddenly grow light; to see the illumination increase both in area and intensity, precisely like a sunrise over a mountain range here on earth. The spectacle was as suggestive as it was sublime. It brought the observer into a new relation to the universe. The sun that lights the earth was then rising on the moon. One realized a new conception of the unity of the solar system.
Now it is this unity in the universe that scientists are everywhere affirming. This is the new note in science, and it is only one aspect of this truth to realize that wireless telegraphy and telepathy are both manifestations of the same principle,—that of setting up a magnetic disturbance in the ether, by utilizing the electricity in etheric currents. Thought is the most potent form of energy, and given the conditions of a certain rapport between two minds, and the result is the same as that discerned and verified by Marconi, in setting up two instruments that are attuned to each other.
In the end telepathy will take entire precedence of all other forms of communication. It will supersede the telegraph, the telephone, the cable, and wireless telegraphy. It will serve every demand, public and private. Distance will interpose no obstacle or difficulty, for thought overcomes space and time.
We are spiritual beings here and now. We are living in a spiritual universe. We are entering in more and more to the grasp and knowledge of spiritual appliances, and we can only say, reverently, that "it doth not yet appear what we shall be."
Is thought, itself, photographed on the ether? Does the vibration of the spoken word linger in the place where it is uttered? The question cannot but recur to one after recognizing phenomena that, apparently, point to this solution,—when, for instance, a caller comes, and, taking the chair of a preceding guest, repeats, substantially, the same words that the other had spoken regarding some subject or event. This is something that frequently occurs. Just what is the explanation? Do thoughts register themselves magnetically on the air, and is this magnetic writing perceived, unconsciously, by one sensitive to it? The question is certainly one of curious interest.
Again, are the daily occurrences of life pre-destined? How far do we make our own life? How far is it made for us? An individual was led in dreams one night through rooms that seemed to have granite walls, to be very bare, cold, and vast. The next evening he was leaving on a journey, and did start; but after he had taken his seat in the palace car, the discovery of a mistake caused him hastily to leave the train before it started, and return. In consequence of the mistake discovered he was obliged to seek a certain official in a great granite building, whose interior had, heretofore, been entirely unknown to him. Entering it, his way led through the same cold, vast, bare rooms that the preceding night in dreams he had traversed. Now the mistake that delayed his journey and brought about these results was not even his own mistake, but one made by another person. Was all this series of events—trifles of no importance in themselves, but very curious in their combination—foreordained? and if not, how was it that they were partly perceived, in the passive state of sleep, twenty-four hours before they occurred? It often seems true that the spirit, in the unconscious condition of sleep, has a certain clairvoyance, and looks out beholding and reporting to the consciousness the immediate future; but if the events it reports were not already formed, how could they be seen? The question involves many psychic complexities.
There can be little question that the atmosphere is electric, magnetic, and conducts thought from mind to mind, as the wire does the electric current. The higher spirituality to which the race has advanced enables one to perceive and experience this truth more or less, some to a great degree, some only in a minor; but some sort of perception is universal, and is seen as phenomena, or as indications of the working of spiritual laws, according to the individual who recognizes it. One of these striking phases may be seen in the experience that results from absence and separation. Let two persons who are mutually sympathetic and responsive to each other meet, and they at once strike the chord of ardent social enjoyment in their companionship, and the note of prelude to an enthusiastic friendship. Let a sudden separation come in the external world, and the mutual spiritual experience is strangely full of color, of vital sympathy, of vivid perceptions. Evidently, the spirits of each meet and mingle, independent of the fact that a thousand miles of distance lie between the individuals. What is distance to the spiritual being? It is not an element which bears any significance to that part of the nature which has transcended time and place. In such an experience as this, and one that occurred recently between two persons, one writes to the other:—
"I talk to you incessantly. I find currents from my life continually running out like telegraph wires to yours."
And a letter written by the other person, crossing this one on the way, had borne a message something to the effect:—
"I go about companioned by you. Far more actually present you are to me than those by whom I am surrounded. Everything I read and think keeps referring itself to you for response."
Between these two persons telepathy was working perfectly. Absence and separation made no blank, but rather a season filled with the most intense and direct sense of psychical communion. They were meeting—spirit to spirit—more closely, more clearly, indeed, than would have been possible had they been dwelling under one roof. For personality, and all the incidents and accidents and interruptions hinder rather than help actual companionship, when it is on this higher plane of spirit to spirit in mutual, swift, unerring response.
In this phase of actual experience may we not find a hint from which to study the words of Jesus to his disciples,—"It is expedient for you that I go away." Through that mystic silence that fell between them on His departure from the visible world, there thrilled the sense of a communion so near, so exalted, so divinely sweet, that it could never have been theirs in the external life. To give this it was expedient that He should go away. Here we find the key to the separations that must occur between friends by the demands of life, or that occur by death, but that may be in either case infinitely deeper in spiritual communion. The friend with whom we are in any real relations is nearer, even when the ocean rolls between, than one in the same room can be with whom we are not in special sympathy; and one who has gone into the invisible world is nearer still, as out of the realm of pure spirit the communion is still stronger and more direct and more intense. For this is "a universe of reciprocal forces." The very ether is the medium of communication between spirit and spirit.
Marconi has recently completed a new wonder in the shape of a ship detector. By means of this instrument the course of any ship having one aboard can be traced, wherever she may be in mid-ocean. It acts on the principle of the wireless telegraph, but does not require a wireless plant to operate it. No operator is needed on the ship, the shore stations locating the ships by a system of tunings. It is proposed to install this system on the leading liners, and the home office can thus know at every moment the exact position of a ship and note her progress as she moves along her course. Should the vessel become disabled it will become noted, and by means of the chart her position can be known and assistance can be sent to her.
Here is one of the most marvellous among the new illustrations of the finer forces. But this "ship detector," which acts on the principle of wireless telegraphy, is less potent than are the electric forces in every human being, if it were known how to control and utilize these to serve the purposes of perception. For perception is a faculty that may far transcend both sight and hearing. Perception is a faculty of the soul—often undeveloped; rarely developed to anything like its full possibilities, but capable of locating objects or of discerning persons and events, or of apprehending states of mind in others, regardless of space, as the ship's detector and the shore stations become aware of each other through their relation of finer vibrations. A recent experimenter in electric and super-physical force, M. Tessier d'Helbaicy, states this theory: "Taking as his premise the fundamental law of physical science, that all chemical reaction is accompanied by a generation of heat and electricity, he said to himself that the human body, with the innumerable and incessant chemical reactions presented by all its cells, should create a thermo-electric pile of great power. In any case, the Austrian savant, Reichenbach, in his remarkable series of experiments, has already proved, fifty years ago, that we radiate electric waves of a special kind, visible in the dark under certain conditions, and these present positive and negative poles." This being granted, M. d'Helbaicy has measured the yielding power of the human machine in heat and electricity, and has compared these with what the heat industrial machines can do, such as those run by steam, dynamos, and electric piles.
[Sidenote: A Glorious Inauguration.]
The new year of 1903 was inaugurated by the scientific success of the most remarkable, the most marvellous achievement of any age,—that of wireless telegraphy. "Before you write 1903 I will have demonstrated the success of wireless communication," exclaimed Marconi, early in 1902; and ten days before the dawning of the year he named, the achievement was an undisputed success. It is so marvellous a thing that thought, without visible mechanism, can be flashed through the air, across the ocean, and record itself, that the success of Marconi can be held as nothing less than sublime. It is the most impressive of all the realizations of the past decade in entering on the unseen and intangible potencies. It has become a familiar thing to see the cars in city streets, and carriages move swiftly by a motor power that is invisible to the eye; a power that no one can analyze or detect save in its effects and its results. It has become so familiar a thing that one can carry on a conversation with a friend at a thousand miles' distance, that one forgets how wonderful it really is. Within the memory of men still living is the time when it required forty days to make the voyage to Europe, and to obtain, or to send, news between the two countries. Now, within forty minutes, the news is flashed under the ocean. All these discoveries that annihilate Time and Space are simply the result of the evolution of life to higher stages; of the advance of man into the ethereal realm. For is not the underlying and fundamental truth this: that all is spirit? One may talk of "the spiritual life," but there is no other life! Withdraw the spiritual element, and there is no life at all! The difference, then, between the physical and the material worlds is only a difference of degree,—as ice-water, steam, and vapor are only different degrees and conditions of the same element. Progress is the transformation of the physical into the spiritual; of the lower and cruder and denser life into the finer, the more potent, the more ethereal. Energy is proportioned in potency to its ethereal aspects. In its cruder and denser form there is only a low degree of potency, and in its more ethereal forms is there higher potency. The ox-team is a dense and crude form of potency, and the electric motor is the more ethereal and intense form of energy. Now the progress of humanity is unfailingly registered by its advance into the employment of the ethereal forces and the more intense energies, as these form conditions that react upon life. How far more intelligent a nation may be when its facilities for swift intercommunication foster and stimulate and instantly disseminate the knowledge of all events, discoveries, and experiences; and when its facilities for swift transportation facilitate all economic and social intercourse! Judged, then, by their unfailing measurements, how significant was the triumphal achievement of wireless telegraphy on the eve of the dawn of 1903.
If telepathy is "the science of the soul's interchange with God—of the interchange of the thought of one soul with another;" if it "reveal that realm of consciousness where all God's thought is interpreted to the soul:" if "its vibration never dies out of the atmosphere of thought;" the discovery of this great law must indeed take precedence of that of any other achievement of the past century.
The nature of Human Personality holds the secret of spiritual evolution. It doth not yet appear what man may be; but the increasing knowledge of his powers; the development of those heretofore latent and unrecognized, are combining to throw a new illumination on not only the aspects, but the purposes of life. Man is coming into enlightenment concerning the environment of the spiritual world as one more immediately controlling him, as well as one far more profound and significant, than the environment of matter and of ether. As things go, the chief emphasis has always been placed upon the material environment. Man has not infrequently been willing to sell his soul for a mess of pottage—his chief concern being, not the loss of his soul, but the gain of the pottage. He has been willing to exchange the entire devotion of all his energies for a finer and more resplendent quality of food, clothing, and shelter,—for a palace in which to live, for private cars and steam yachts in which to go about, and all the paraphernalia accessible to the multi-millionaire. But it is not all that these possessions typify which constitutes his most important environment. It is that degree of the spiritual world with which his own quality of spiritual life is fitted to ally itself. "The life of the organism consists in its power of interchanging energy with that of its environment," says Frederic W. H. Myers,—"of appropriating by its own action some fraction of that pre-existent and limitless power. We human beings exist, in the first place, in a world of matter," he continues, "whence we draw the obvious sustenance of our bodily functions. We exist also in a world of ether; that is to say, we are constructed to respond to a system of laws, ultimately continuous, no doubt, with the laws of matter, but affording a new, a generalized, a profounder conception of the Cosmos. On this environment our organic existence depends as absolutely as on the material environment, although less obviously,—but ... within, beyond the world of ether, as a still profounder, still more generalized aspect of the Cosmos, must lie, as I believe, the world of spiritual life."
This world of spiritual life, a deeper reality, a profounder realm of energy than the ethereal world, is the true environment of the spirit even while embodied in physical form; and the secret of all success, of all achievement, of all progress, of all happiness, is to discover increasing means by which we may thus relate ourselves to our native realm. Science and Psychical Research are supplementing Religion; are, indeed, incorporating themselves into Religion as vital factors of the spiritual progress of humanity. Far from being hostile elements to the revelation of the Divine Power given in the Bible, they explain, they extend, they interpret that revelation. As Archdeacon Wilberforce so finely points out, God is ever the same, "but what men see of Him changes,—changes without contradiction of the past conceptions."
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"It was a definite promise of God that He should unfold, develop, spiritualize the conceptions of the early Christian faith, revealing gradually, as men should be able to assimilate them, higher, nobler views of the nature, character, and purpose of the Eternal Father," continued Archdeacon Wilberforce in a memorable sermon preached in Westminster Abbey, and he added:—
"It is, I suppose, inevitable that timid hearts, rooted in the traditions of the past, iron-bound in antiquated definitions, should imagine that the foundations of faith are shaken. They forget that the Christ told us that when His visible presence was removed He would speak by His spirit, as He had only delivered the preliminaries of His full message; that there were truths yet to be unfolded which men would receive and assimilate as the generations succeeded one another,—'as the thoughts of men widened with the progress of the suns.' I have been told by experts that the astronomers who built those marvels of antiquity, the Pyramids of the Nile, pierced a slanting shaft through the larger pyramid which pointed direct to the Pole-star, and that in those days had you gazed heavenward through the shaft into the Eastern night, the Pole-star alone would have met your eye. It was in the ages of the past, it was when the Southern Cross was visible from the British Isles. Slowly, imperceptibly, the orientation of the planet has changed. Did you now look up into the midnight sky through the shaft in the Great Pyramid you would not see the Pole-star; new brilliant space-worlds would shine down on you. But the heavens have not altered, and the shaft of the pyramid is not guilty, so to speak, of unorthodoxy. A new view of the heavens has quietly come, for the earth's axis has changed its place. Similarly, it is the work of the spirit of the ascended Jesus to advance the axis of the Church of God from glory to glory. Conceptions of the Universal Soul once prominent before the telescope of human faith and aspiration grow, enlarge, expand. He changeth not; He is ever the same. And these conceptions will change until knowledge, in the sense of the acquisition of facts, shall be no more, and intuitive perception of the transcendent majesty of the Universal Life shall fill our souls forever."
In these latter days one may hold all his old faith and add to it knowledge, as Saint Paul himself enjoins. One of these powers of the spiritual man now being rapidly developed is that of telepathy. We shall learn to talk in thought, as well as in oral speech. We shall learn to "call up" the friend at a distance, or the friend in the Unseen, as unmistakably as we now call up a friend by telephone. Time and Space are the limits which define the terrestrial life as distinct from the celestial. But man is, primarily, a celestial being. He is, first of all, a spirit, belonging to the spiritual world, and only secondarily and temporarily a denizen of earth. He can regain, to some extent, at least, his celestial faculties. For centuries he has accepted imprisonment in the senses. His release is at hand. He has but to assert his own pre-eminence as a spiritual being with spiritual powers. He has but to exert these in order to prove to himself their existence, and to develop them to their increasing use. Extension of power over the material universe, more wonderful and more potent, and more all-comprehending than even Marconi's wonderful wireless telegraphy, is at hand. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be;" but that man can create and control his destiny to an increasing extent, is true. It is the evolution of religion,—of that faith which has added to itself knowledge. Thought is the highest manifestation of energy; and when man learns to live in thought he acts upon all his environment with energies that are immortal.
Professor Leavenworth of the State University Observatory in Minnesota photographed the new asteroid Eros at a distance estimated to be some thirty-six millions of miles,—a distance that renders it impossible to discern this planet even through the strongest telescope. Exact mathematical calculation had worked out the problem of the location of Eros, and the sensitive photographic plate caught it, even though it is beyond the power of the telescope.
This scientific fact illustrates perfectly the way in which an unseen universe exists about us, registering its existence on the sensitive plate of spiritual impression. Science has long since established the truth of the different rates of vibration that characterize different things. The reason that the psychic (or spiritual) body of those who have passed from the physical to the ethereal world is unseen is simply that the ethereal body is in a state of vibration too high for the eye to follow. Stephen Phillips expresses a deep scientific truth when he says:—
"I tell you we are fooled by the eye, the ear; These organs muffle as from that real world That lies about us."
Yet in every human being there lies latent the inner sight and the inner hearing, which can be increasingly developed by psycho-physical culture; by such habits of life as make the physical body more flexible, more subtle, and which thus raise to a far higher rate its degree of vibration, and enable the organs of sight and hearing to be far less "muffled" than they are in those who live more in the mere life of the senses. This unseen world that lies about us may be explored; the unseen friends who encompass us may be recognized by those who will so live as to develop the psychic senses, and so as to allow the psychic body to take greater control of its physical instrument; this unseen world is simply the natural continuation of the physical universe in the scale of evolution. Science is every day penetrating its space, and the horizon line of mystery constantly recedes. What is wireless telegraphy but one of those marvels which a decade ago we should have considered as quite beyond the horizon line of our experimental knowledge, and as belonging to the unrevealed mysteries of the spiritual universe? The ordinary trolley car of to-day—moving without visible means—would have been regarded as a miracle a century ago. There is no hard and fast line between the physical and the ethereal worlds. They melt into one another and are determined only by degrees. Any element may exist as a solid, a liquid, a gas, or in the etheric condition, and one state is no less real than another. The trend of progress is leading humanity constantly into the realm of finer forces; of more subtle forms of expression. The trend of progress is constantly discarding the more ponderous and clumsy for the subtle, the swift, and the more ethereal form of mechanism. Instead of the stage coach, with two, four, or six horses, we have the automobile; instead of the sailing ship, the twin-screw propeller; instead of stoves or fireplaces, with fuel to be carried in and refuse to be carried out, we have the hot-water radiator, and are on the eve of having heat, as we already have light, from electricity.
Now when science provides the explanation of this ethereal universe surrounding and interpenetrating that in which we live and psychic science begins to explore it and formulate its means and methods, there are persons who object on the ground of its "materializing heaven." If one were to inquire as to what this idea of heaven is he would probably receive no more definite reply than that it was supposed to be a condition of playing on golden harps and waving palm branches. The figurative pictures of the New Testament have largely been accepted as literal ones, and it may be an open question as to which condition would be the more "material," that of walking golden streets, waving branches of palms and devoting one's time to the harp, or the life that prefigures itself as a development and expansion of our present intellectual, artistic, and spiritual life.
"Unless some insight is gained into the psychical side of things, some communications realized with intelligences outside our own, some light thrown upon a more than corporeal descent and destiny of man," wrote Frederick W. H. Myers in that monumental work entitled "Human Personality," which offers a rich mine of suggestion, "it would seem that the shells to be picked up on the shore of the ocean of truth will ever become scantier, and the agnostics of the future will gaze forth ever more hopelessly on that gloomy and unvoyageable sea. For vast as is the visible universe, infinite as may have been the intelligence that went to its evolution, yet while viewed in the external way in which we alone can view it—while seen as a product and not as a plan—it cannot possibly suggest to us an indefinite number of universal laws. Such cosmic generalizations as gravitation, evolution, correlation of forces, conservation of energy, though assuredly as yet unexhausted, cannot, in the nature of things, be even approximately inexhaustible."
[Sidenote: Finer Cosmic Forces.]
The entire trend of progress is toward the continued discovery of finer cosmic forces and their utilization in practical affairs. Within the past five years this tendency has strikingly demonstrated itself. The evolution of the ways and means of travel offers, in itself, an impressive illustration of this tendency. The visitor to the Musee Cluny in Paris will find, among the masses of relics of an historic pass, the state carriages used in the time of Louis XV. and Marie Antoinette. They are incredibly clumsy and gigantic,—the carriage itself mounted on four great wheels, two of which are very large, with the two front ones smaller,—the entire vehicle occupying about twice the space of a modern conveyance, and its weight must be something to reckon with. Several of these are standing in the Cluny and offer a strange contrast with the carriages of to-day. But when these, with their lumbering motion, are contrasted,—not merely with the modern carriage, but with the flying automobile,—one realizes, indeed, the evolution in the methods of local transportation.
Again, let one compare the traditions of the sailing vessels on which passengers crossed to Europe within the memory of men still living,—the forty days' passage between Boston and Liverpool which is well within the memory of Doctor Hale,—with the passage on this latest floating palace of the ocean, the Kaiser Wilhelm II.,—and he realizes how far science has penetrated into the more subtle forces, where lightness and speed take the place of clumsy device and slow motion. To go up to the hurricane deck of the wonderful Kaiser Wilhelm and look down through the openings on the six mighty engines, with their intense throb of vibration day and night, is to behold an object lesson in the possibilities of motion. With the precision and the persistence of fate, the great beams fly up—and down. The vibration pervades the entire vast spaces of the great steamer. It becomes like an electric current, a thing of life, to be missed when one leaves the steamer as if one had left there a part of his own life. There is an exhilaration in it that communicates itself to mind and body. It is like a dynamo generating vitality. And still more swift and subtle methods of loco-motion are in the air. Doctor Albertson, an electrical engineer of the Royal University of Denmark, has an invention for a railroad train without wheels to make a speed of three hundred miles an hour. "Two things defeated the attainment of speed above the present maximum (sixty miles an hour)," says a writer in the "New York Herald," and these are specified as "the dead weight of the train, and aerial resistance.
"Now comes the announcement that there has been discovered a method of abolishing the dead weight of the train, leaving only aerial resistance to be contended with. If this can be done, as Mr. Albertson asserts, half of the battle is won, and the world may yet be able to travel on the earth's surface with the much-dreamed-of speed of hundreds of miles an hour. For many years the great principle of magnetism has been known to electricians and used in practical work by laymen. Steel companies have found the magnet useful in lifting huge metal girders. At one end of their lifting apparatuses they have placed a magnet which, when charged, grips the steel bars and lifts them, no matter how great their weight. It has been noticed that a magnet would move to come in contact with the steel bar as soon as it arrived within the drawing radius, carrying any amount of weight with it which happened to be attached at the time.
"It is this principle which Doctor Albertson sought to make use of—the lifting power of a magnet when attracted to a fixed rail of steel. He arranged a series of magnets under a miniature car running on a steel railway track. The magnets were insulated and attached to the bottom of the car so that they came under the rail and about an inch below it. Then he turned on enough electricity to make the magnets active. They rose upward toward the rail, lifting the car bodily in the air. The weight of the train was thus simply overcome!"
The electro-magnetic train has demonstrated its principle to the satisfaction of scientific engineers. Professor Roberts, in charge of the chemical works at Niagara Falls, says of it:—
"It is the electrical discovery of the age, and so simple in application that the marvel is that it has escaped us so long. The lightening power of magnetism has been known for years, the greatest saving power to overcome gravity, but it seems it had to wait for Doctor Albertson to discover it."
The air-ship promises, however, to eclipse the greatest and swiftest of latter-day steamers. The air, rather than the ocean, is to be navigated.
All these marvellous developments in scientific activity correspond to the developments of man's mental and spiritual powers. Telepathy establishes its communication from spirit to spirit, as wireless telegraphy establishes its sending of messages without visible means. On both planes,—the physical and the psychical,—the subtle and finer forces are being utilized, and the horizon line of the unknown continually recedes before the progress of man.
Sir Oliver Lodge, LL.D., presented a new phase of the problem of personality in an address in London, in the following statement of a speculative belief:—
"To tell the truth, I do not myself hold that the whole of any one of us is incarnated in these terrestrial bodies; certainly not in childhood; more, but perhaps not so very much more, in adult life. What is manifested in this body is, I venture to think likely, only a portion—an individualized, a definite portion—of a much larger whole. What the rest of me may be doing, for these few years while I am here, I do not know, perhaps it is asleep; but probably it is not so entirely asleep with men of genius; nor, perhaps, is it all completely inactive with the people called 'mediums.'
"Imagination in science is permissible, provided one's imaginations are not treated as fact, or even theory, but only as working hypotheses,—a kind of hypotheses which, properly treated, is essential to the progress of every scientific man. Let us imagine, then, as a working hypothesis, that our subliminal self—the other, the greater part of us—is in touch with another order of existence, and that it is occasionally able to communicate, or somehow, perhaps unconsciously, transmit to the fragment in the body something of the information accessible to it. This guess, if permissible, would contain a clue to a possible explanation of clairvoyance. We should then be like icebergs floating in an ocean, with only a fraction exposed to sun and air and observation: the rest—by far the greater bulk—submerged and occasionally in subliminal contact, while still their peaks, their visible peaks, were far separate."
That which Doctor Lodge expresses in the form of a speculative theory is by many realized as an actual experience; an absolute consciousness that over and above and outside of the ordinary intelligent consciousness is another being more one's self than is his conscious self; with whom he is in a very varied degree of communion; clearer and more immediate at times; clouded, confused, even shut off by some dense state at others; intermittent always, yet often sufficiently clear and impressive to compel his attention to the phenomena and compel recognition of the truth. In fact, as one comes into still clearer recognition of this "other" self,—which is far more the true self than is the lower and lesser manifestation,—one comes to absolutely realize that his larger, higher, more comprehensive life is being lived in this higher realm, or condition, and that his entire being on the plane of the lower consciousness is a series of effects of which the causes lie in this other larger and more real life. That is, the individual has two lives not precisely corresponding in chronological sequence. The experiences of the day are his because, before the day has dawned, they have been the experiences of the higher life lived in the larger realm. The spiritual self has realized that train of experiences in the spiritual realm; therefore, and as a result inevitable, these experiences precipitate themselves into the physical life, and are manifested on the physical plane of being. One does a given thing to-day, or meets a given event, because his spiritual or subliminal or even real self has already done that thing or met that event on the higher plane. The real being is all the time dwelling in the more real world. As all planes of life are spiritual planes,—even that which we call the physical, being but the cruder and denser quality of the spiritual,—it makes the theory clearer to designate the realm just above our present one as the ethereal. In this ethereal realm dwells the ethereal body. A certain portion of its consciousness animates the physical structure and works through the physical brain. It lies with ourselves as to how closely we may establish the relation between the higher and the lower self. This relation may constantly be increased in the degree of receptivity of the lower to the higher self by living the life of the spirit. And what is the life of the spirit? The life of joy and peace; and the life of study, thought, and endeavor; the life of both intellectual and spiritual culture; the life in which the physical body is subordinated to its true place as a mechanism, an instrument for carrying out the will of the spiritual self.
Thus, by study, thought, and prayer, may one more and more consciously and entirely control and determine his active life, and constantly refine and exalt it in quality. As this is done its potency increases, for spirit alone is power.
Of telepathy Doctor Lodge says:—
"Telepathy itself, however, is in need of explanation. An idea or thought in the mind of one person reverberates, and dimly appears in the mind of another. How does this occur? Is it a physical process going on in some physical medium or ether connecting the two brains? Is it a primary physiological function of the brain, or is it primarily psychological? If psychological only, what does that mean? Perhaps it may not be a direct immediate action between the two minds at all; perhaps a third intelligence is in communication with both."
Will this theory furnish the basis for a true interpretation of telepathy?
The relations between the individual and the forces of the ethereal realm are also determining as regards health.
[Sidenote: Health and Happiness.]
For health and illness are by no means the mere and exclusive consideration of the physical life. Health, in its complete significance, is mental and even moral, and involves, in its higher aspects, the entire question of the spiritual life. Health, successful achievement, and happiness are an indissoluble trinity, when interpreted in their full integrity and in their inter-relations. Ideally considered, they are in closest interpenetration. As a matter of actual fact each is often partially manifest,—good physical health without any special achievement; or a high degree of achievement with defective health; or both, without much resultant happiness; or happiness even, without outward success or physical health, resulting only from a deeper spiritual insight and recognition of eternal laws. Still, ideally considered, as this world goes, health should be the basis of successful achievement, and this achievement should rest on health; and the union of both should produce the inflorescence of happiness; for the true sense of all successful achievement is in that it makes for the forces of righteousness, and a successful swindler or criminal could hardly be included under these general definitions. And so, to have good health, and to achieve good and noble work, must produce a good degree of personal happiness as inevitably as that certain numerical combinations produce certain numerical results. So much we may concede. The question is then before us: How can we secure and hold unvarying, from day to day, from year to year, this basis of physical health on which the superstructure of all endeavor and realization must rest? Just how shall one be well and keep well?
It is certainly a question not restricted to the physician nor yet to the metaphysician. For health is not merely a physical condition. It is the question of the poise, the harmony of the entire psychical being.
Professor John D. Quackenbos has recently said of Hypnotism:—
"Investigations extending over many years have led me to a belief in the dual personality of man—that is, each human unit exists in two distinct states of superior consciousness. One of these states is called the primary or superliminal consciousness,—the personality by which a man is known to his objective associates, which takes cognizance through the senses of the outside world, and carries on the ordinary business of every-day life. The second or subliminal personality is the superior spiritual self, the man's own oversoul, which automatically superintends all physical functions and procedures, and influences mental and moral attitudes.
"It happens to be a fact of mind that in sleep—natural or induced—this subliminal or submerged self may be brought into active control of the objective life. My experiments have forced me to the conclusion that there is no difference as regards suggestibility between natural sleep and the so-called hypnotic trance. In the induced sleep the subject is in rapport exclusively with the operator; in natural sleep only with his own objective self, perhaps with a multitude of discarnate personalities, who think and feel in common with him, and, in case he be of superior parts, possibly with all well-wishing extra-human intelligences."
Here we have the basis of truth. That condition of vigor, poise, vitality, and harmony which we call good health depends on the degree of control exercised over the physical body by that "second or subliminal personality, the superior spiritual self, the man's own oversoul, which," as Doctor Quackenbos so truly observes, "superintends all physical functions and procedures, and influences mental and moral attitudes."
The problem, then, becomes that of bringing the psychical body into this receptive relation to the physical self? How shall the perfect spiritual supremacy be established? This question reveals, of itself, to how great a degree health is a mental and moral as well as a physical affair.
Perhaps the initial step is that of clearly realizing—of holding the luminous conception—of one's self as a spiritual being in the psychical body, temporarily inhabiting a physical body,—a spiritual being using as its instrument a physical body so long as it is at work in the physical world, or on the physical plane. One may thus conceive of his physical body as being really as objective as is the pen of the writer; the palette and brushes of the painter; the machine, or mechanism, or instrument used by any one. And the moment one learns to thus hold the physical instrument objectively, he thus brings it under the control of thought. He is no longer so a part of it; so entangled and involved in it that he cannot control it. The moment he holds this clear, vivid mental realization of it as his instrument, he is in command. This may be illustrated by an electric car and a motor-man. If the man were bound up and entangled among the cogs and wheels he could not guide and control the car; but in his place, free from all its mechanism, his hand on the motor, the course and the degree of speed obeys his mental direction applied through his control.
This realization of the true relation of the spiritual man to his body is the initial condition of health, and this involves as a matter of course the spiritual relations with the Divine Power, and receptivity to the infinite energy.
It also involves an intelligent care of the physical mechanism. A clogged pen would repress the recording of the noblest sonnet or epic; a defective brush, or pigment, would ruin the picture of the greatest artist; a broken wire would prevent the transmission of the most important telegraphic or cable message. And so, however intelligently and completely one holds the faith of supremacy of the spiritual over the physical, he must realize the absolute necessity of fidelity to hygienic laws. Food, in its quantity and quality; bathing, exercise, fresh air, sleep,—these are the conditions on which the state of the physical mechanism depends, and which involve that perfection of health which determines exhilaration, power, achievement, and happiness.
Canon Scott Holland of St. Paul's Cathedral has ably discussed these new problems of the finer forces in the ethereal realm; and in a discourse entitled "Other World Activities" he drew the following analogy:—
"The text is from the Book of Daniel, a Book which takes us into a world of visions and trances and mystical imagery. There is a world within the world; a life beyond life. That world is not only the sphere of God, but of recognizable beings, meditating presences subject to rule, with organization and degrees, activities and authorities. It is a host, a kingdom, swayed by law and purpose. In the Bible there is much of this, learnt probably by the Hebrews from their captors. They had gone far afield: their horizon had been widened: they had been taught how to enter largely into this mysterious region. But, fortunately, they dealt soberly with this weltering flood of occult knowledge. These hosts of unseen presences are marshalled into order: they are not mere genii, fantastic and magical; they pass under the control of the sole directive will of the Most High. They are solemn instruments of spiritual destiny: they are semi-human, and the record is, 'one like unto a man touched me.'"
Canon Holland proceeds to arraign modern teachings. "We have drifted from this tremendous reality," he says. "We have tried to isolate the field of known experience, and to cut it off from disturbing supernatural imaginings. We have set ourselves to purge out from our scheme of things anything that seemed to interfere with it. The unseen was the unknown and the unknowable. But our agnostic programme has broken down. Facts have been too much for it. The isolation desired by it is impossible. In and out of the life that we can cover with our rationalized experiences, there are influences, forces, powers which are forever at work, and belong to a world beyond our scientific methods. We float in a mysterious ether to which no physical limitations apply. Sounds, motions, transmit themselves through this medium, under conditions which transform our whole idea of what space or time they mean. Through and beyond the semi-physical mystery, a world of spiritual activity opens upon us. It has capacities of which we have never dreamed. It allows of apparent contact of spirit with spirit, in spite of material distance and physical obstruction. There are modes of communication which are utterly unintelligible to our ordinary scientific assumptions, yet which actual experience tends more and more to verify."
Yes, as Canon Holland well says, "Facts have been too much" for those who would cling to the old and the less intelligent ideas of the future life. The ethereal world will even cease to be mysterious before advancing scientific investigation and knowledge. Through the ether, as Canon Holland notes, sounds and motions transmit themselves "under conditions which transform our whole idea of what space or time may mean." In the realm of present life the same assertion may be made. Who can contemplate wireless telegraphy without having opened to him a range of activities and conditions undreamed of heretofore? "We become sure," continues Canon Holland, "that both above and below our normal consciousness we are in touch with mysteries that travel far, and that we lie open to spiritual acts done unto us from a far distance, that we assimilate intimations and intuitions that reach us by inexplicable channels.
"This world of spirit powers and activities has been opened afresh; and now even physical science is compelled to recognize the evidence for it, and a new psychological language is coming into being to describe its phenomena. We are only slowly recovering our hold upon this life of mystic intuition, of exalted spiritual communications; we are only beginning to recognize the abnormal and exceptional spiritual condition with which Saint Paul was familiar, when, whether in the body or out of it, he could not say,—God only knows,—he was transported to the third Heaven and heard unutterable things."
This remarkable sermon is an initiation of a new era of religious teaching. The light is breaking and the full illumination is only a question of time.
Life is exalted in its purpose and refined in its quality by holding the perpetual consciousness of the two worlds in which we dwell; by the constant realization that
"The spirit world around this world of sense Floats like an atmosphere...."
This atmosphere is all peopled, and it is magnetic with intelligence. Every spirit-call for aid, for guidance, for support, is answered. If a man fall on a crowded street in the city, how instantaneous is the aid that cares for him. He is lifted and conveyed tenderly to his home, or to a hospital, or to some temporary resting-place if the ill be but a slight one. Strangers or friends, it matters not, rush to his rescue. This, which occurs in the tangible and visible world, is but a feeble illustration of the more profound tenderness, the clearer understanding, the more potent aid that is given instantly to man from the unseen helpers and friends in this spirit world which floats like an atmosphere around this world of sense. It is all and equally the help of God; it is the Divine answer to the call; but the Heavenly Father works through ways and means. If a man fall on the street God does not cause a miracle to be wrought and a bed to descend from the clouds, but He works through the sympathies of the bystanders. Is it not equally conceivable that the appeal for leading and for light sent into spirit spheres meets the response of spirit-aid; that it awakens the interest and the infinite tenderness and care of those who have passed from this life into that of the next stage beyond, and that they are, according to their development and powers, co-workers with God, even as we who are yet on earth aim and pray to be?
Now it is just this faith that is so largely pervading the religious world to-day. Spirituality includes all the convictions that constitute ethics. Spirituality is the unchanging quality in all forms of organized religion. And it is found, in greater or in less degree, in every sect and every creed. Outward forms come and go; they multiply, or they decrease, and the change in the expression of religious faith is a matter largely determined by the trend of general progress; but the essentials of religion, under all organized forms, remain the same, for the essential element is spirituality. In and around Copley Square in Boston, within the radius of one block, are several denominations whose order of worship varies, the one from another. The Baptist believes in immersion as the outer sign of the inner newness of life; the Episcopalian holds dear his ritual; the Unitarian and the Presbyterian, and perhaps a half-dozen other sects in close proximity (which express the various forms of what they call "new thought"), each and all exist and have their being by virtue of the one essential faith held in common by all,—the one aim to which all are tending,—that of the spiritualization of life. The larger recognition of the spiritual universe includes the recognition of this interpenetration of the life in the Seen and the Unseen. Every thought and decision is like an action on the spiritual side. A thought has the force of a deed, and there is a literal truth in the line,—
"The good, though only thought, has life and breath;"
and in Lowell's words:—
"Ah! let us hope that to our praise Good God not only reckons The moments when we tread His ways, But when the spirit beckons."
The thought-life is, indeed, the most real of the two lives, and dominates the other. The events and achievements, held in thought and will, precipitate themselves into outer circumstance and action.
To live in this perfect sympathy of companionship with the forces and the powers of the unseen world is to dwell amid perpetual reinforcement of energy, solace, and sustaining aid, and with faith vitalized by spiritual perception.
All scientific problems are ethical, and even spiritual, problems. They are discoveries in the divine laws. "Can man by searching find out God?" Apparently he approaches constantly to this possibility, and finds that
"—through the ages one increasing purpose runs, And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the suns."
Every succeeding century brings humanity to a somewhat clearer perception of the nature of the Divine Creation. However slowly, yet none the less surely, does the comprehension of man and his place in the universe and his oneness with the Divine life increase with every century. Jonathan Edwards taught that while Nature might reflect the Divine image, man could not, as he was in a "fallen" state, until he was regenerated. Putting aside the mere dogma involved in the "fall" of man, the other matter—that of regeneration, of redemption—is undeniable, even though we may interpret this process in a different manner from that of the great eighteenth-century theologian. The redemption, the regeneration of man, lies in faith. In that is the substance through which and by means of which man comes into conscious communion with God. It is by the intense activity possible to this mental attitude that he conquers the problems of the universe, that he advances in knowledge, and advances in the increasing capacity to receive the Divine messages and to follow the Divine leadings.