continued from Vera Vita the Philosophy of Sympathy part 1 of 2
Like innumerable wavelet rays of light from the sun, the etheric rays or chords, originating with the origin of all life and conducting all psychological communications, connect all life capable of sympathy with all similar life. Each wave-chord with its universal circuit from the source of all life may, like the telegraph wire which bears its message through a hundred stations, be uninterrupted by the intervention of individual beings, Just as the power of the magnet is equally strong when paper, glass, board, etc., are placed between it and the attracted iron. No living being can escape from the contact, for every living being is a station en route of the circuit of numerous chords where the current message may be taken without being broken off. The current cannot be broken, although it may rush past the station without interpretation, whilst its psychological antics are simply looked upon as objects of inexplicable curiosity by the ignorant observer. Yet as the sun shines, in spite of the denials of the much-to-be-pitied blind, so the true motive power of all natural life is a constant and universal currency in this etheric medium whether we understand it or not, or whether we interpret and adopt it or not. These chords and the communications along them are as free to all as the light of heaven; and, as far as the natural and necessary supply of the knowledge and use of true human existence is concerned, their quantity is certain, sufficient, and constant in each and all. The galvanic-like force for the merest natural human existence is constantly present with all, and acts in the individual, nolans volans, just as one cannot avoid receiving some light when he insists on keeping in the shade. But the effect or result for higher ends must depend on the interpretation and use. Less than this constant supply living creatures cannot get, although by utilization it may be increased to an amazing force. These chords do not, like rays of light, stop at the body's surface, but penetrate through soul and intellect. No individual is a terminus for them, but a mere station whence every etheric communication received must proceed to the end of the circuit, although it may only be applicably interpreted at one station. The transmission never ceases in its course, although it may either increase or decrease in its power and effect. In this increase or decrease it may seem that there is a special law of Nature called into effect which differs from the law of Nature that governs other forces. But it is not actually so; for, where one law is sufficient, Nature never requisitions another. The same law applies to all forces, and by this law the power of doing work of all forces is reduced as it recedes from its origin. Yet the resultant work of this current etheric force may increase as it works, without violating this universal force law; and that simply and solely because at different stations the sympathetic individual adds his, or her, latent supply (or part of it) and so increases the electric-like force of the message being transmitted along the etheric element. As speed increases with the distance of a fall, so this sympathetic galvanism of life increases with the impulses given to it by the individuals at the numerous stations along the line.
Few cultured people have not experienced the difference of the effect upon them when the same pieces have been played on the same musical instrument by one who plays with perfect correctness according to the music of the book, and when the master hand of the musical genius discourses the same. The mechanical player is admittedly faultless. His time and touch are exact with the requirements of the book; yet, no matter how sonorous his music may be, it has no soul like the thrilling, quivering, living sympathetic magnetism that holds one's soul in its grasp when the genius plays. There is no difference in time, place, people, music, or instrument; and yet the living electric difference is marvelous, and arises from the fact that the operator is more closely in touch with, or nearer the source of, sympathetic life and the human heart. By means of the extreme conductivity of the genius, surcharged, as it were, with the etheriform element that connects all life, and who is in the closet alliance with the source of all life, the proximity of the human soul and its divine source is at its human maximum. The touch of sympathy that makes the world feel kin is then more of the nature of a tangible embrace. The magnetic chords of the universal ether, reducing time and distance to a mere point, then bathe the soul in the very source of real sympathy rather than send their currents into that illimitable distance through which the mechanical player must bring and send that sympathy which produces such comparatively faint appreciation. There is but a small chord conducting the etheriform element through the mechanical musician, whereas through the genius there is a great cable. The cultured singer with all the finest training Italy can give falls incalculably short in effect of the simplest warbling of the heaven-born genius. An unmusical person might sit unmoved by the finest efforts of the merely accomplished artist; but when the genius who sits closest to the throne of human sympathy sings, the stoniest heart is filled with rapture and delight, but this is done neither by the throat nor the manner of the singer, but because it is the undiluted sympathy straight from the fountain-head through the invisible, but closely attached, cable of ether. The difference between mere verbal eloquence and true oratory is as distinct as light is from darkness, even when there is no difference whatever in the words spoken. A preacher who is only eloquent with rich language may be much admired as a speaker without his being able to link one human heart to his own, without kindling a single ray of light or happiness in another, whereas the earnest appeal from the soul, even in the most humble language, appeals directly to the soul. Simulated earnestness often deceives the ear and intellect but never reaches the soul, for language is actually though not seemingly a not altogether necessary conductor of sympathy. Fervent earnestness in communicating etheric receptions is not only uncontrolled but unmoved by human dogmas, prejudices, or false reasoning, and is nourished directly by the true motive power of life. The true natural channels, accessible to all, for the conveyance of this motive power of real human life is neither of man's making nor at the command of tongues and learning, for heart can speak with heart when tongues are speechless. Oratory is only powerful when it is a close interpretation of a sympathetic message from the source of sympathy, and not a mere sonorous and musical verbosity.
In addressing a sympathetic audience the speaker, without eloquence or force of language, carries his hearers with him easily, for his meaning is actually anticipated, and better and more favorably interpreted than it could be by the use of any language at his command. Such an audience sees his meaning, and grasps his conclusions before he utters his syllogisms or lets bare his reasonings. The knowledge he wishes to convey is in the understanding of the hearer, by the medium of the etheric chord, before the speaker puts it into words. So, too, an antipathetic audience, by the law of antipathy or repulsion, misunderstands, and answers with its hisses and howls before the public speaker makes his statement audible. As in public, so in private; we feel that we understand the silent communings of a friend, and we feel an aversion to what we know is in the secret chambers of the enemy's mind, and this without speech or sign.
When a large school-class gives simultaneous answers it is almost invariably the case that the class, without meaning it or knowing it, is led by one. If the leader answers right all answer right, and if he is wrong all invariably answer the same, and that often with the greatest absurdity, thus proving the utter inattention to the subject. Although he is the leader he is not before any. So closely is the class sympathetically allied by this ether for the time, that the class adopts the thoughts of the leader, and expresses them quite as soon as he does himself.
Any two bodies closely united affect each other. The ordinary air and this etheric conductor of the motive power of true natural life are in constant juxtaposition, yet not in actual amalgamation. Surely it is patent to all that the change in the atmosphere is constant; there are high temperatures and low temperatures, high barometers and low barometers, and so on. These changes cannot take place without in some way affecting the interwoven etheriform element which is direct communication with the essential parts of our human nature, health, disposition, temperament, etc. - in short, with whatever constitutes our true life. As the willow that stretches into the river from its bank is kept in perpetual motion by the action of the stream, without becoming a part of the stream, so this element in constant disturbance by means of this changing air remains in substantial difference from the air, but conducts its disturbed vibrations to its termini by the millions of lines. It follows that the seats of life in the individual stations of these conducting lines must be affected by the different vibrations caused by the changes of the atmosphere. Now, what is the case in actual life? Most simply natural. The state of the weather governs the conditions of health, spirits, etc., apparently; yet it is not the weather at all but this life-sustaining motive power which is accidentally influenced in its transmission by the atmospheric disturbing pressure on its element conductor. Some stages of certain diseases affect the pains of the body with the precise effects of barometric pressure, so that the patient can, by his sufferings, foretell the weather. The oppression and annui that overcome some persons in certain condtitions of the atmosphere are deplorable. So with all conditions of health, temperament, etc., that are usually ascribed to the state of the atmosphere, they are caused directly by counter influences on this etheric element.
The atmosphere is affected by its elevation above the sea-level to such an extent that water can be boiled at a very low temperature. The air becomes so rare that a man can barely breathe, bleeding of the nose and other disagreeable symptoms follow, which are entirely owing to his elevation. This extreme change in the condition of the air from a high to a low altitude must necessarily, by the commonest laws of cause and effect, produce some distinct difference in this universal etheric element that is so closely intermingled with our common atmosphere, and, in return, the change in the etheric element must necessarily alter the psychological influences on persons living at different altitudes. If this is not really, the case, then a weak link in the chain of argument is found where the link should be a self-evidently strong one. Proofs in favour of the existence and use of this etheric element of psychological unionism must not depend on the historical past, nor on the speculative future, but must stand the test at any moment, and the arguments in its favor are so simple, natural, and numerous, that even the most casual thinker must be struck with their axiomatic beauty and persistent presence. My language may be weak in their enumeration, definition, and defence, but that does not alter their position by a single atom any more than, â€˜because some clergymen are fools, therefore religion is foolishnessâ€™. Now, what are the psychological differences in the people of high and low altitudes? They are great and many. In the higher altitudes, where there is less atmosphere, there is much greater psychological energy in the people. The power of the ether being less affected by the air, the psychological interests - the imaginative or poetical appearances of life - are much greater in Highlanders than Lowlanders, where the terrestrial or more material interests of life are of the highest account. The mental calibre of a Highlander and a Lowlander of equal physical capacity may be equally abnormally high, but no amount of education can tear from the Highland breast the inborn superstitions, weird opinions of ghosts, spiritual influences, death raps, second sights, dreams, and a thousand other psychological pecularities of his race at which the Lowlander laughs. If this be so with the educated, what can it be with the ignorant, whose minds are constantly and congenially ministered to by their lively imaginations, by whose poetic fancies the mountians, rivers, storms and scenery take soul and life? The Swiss, Scotch Highlander, and all Highland-born people are psychologically influenced to an altogether different degree from people of Lowland birth, and numerous instances of differences of national psychological character will at once present themselves to the ordinary thinking reader.
The lower animals, as well as human beings, are attracted or repeled at first sight in proportion to the amount of this connective sympathy. In dogs and horses this especially apparent to all, but in undomesticated animals it is also easily discernible by ordinary observers. The fact is so common that it cannot plausibly be called habit, but nature.
Wild animals instinctively perceive, some with one and some with a different intensity, according to the amount of the sympathetic current, whether the observer is repellent or sympathetic. I have seen two persons under exactly similar circumstances and practically at the same time have very different receptions from a bull. To one it cowered with abject submission, and to the other it was quite ferocious. Animals will at once become quite familiar with sympathetic strangers, without any preliminary or introductory fondlings, while all the petting and patting imaginable will not bring out of them a single affectionate symptom towards other strangers. The dispositions and temperaments of animals are as varied as those of men, and are as peculiarly affected by the same etheric means. Indeed, they seem far more sensitive to the sympathetic current than human beings, for the simple reason that neither prejudices nor reasoned thoughts of consequences affect their actions. They act in the straightforward natural way in which children, without experience or prejudice, innocently do. Their likes and dislikes may justly be put down to instinct, but this instinct is knowledge gained through the conductivity of the etheriform element.
If a wild bird be robbed of her young she will rend the air with such piteous cries that all the neighboring birds of like feather will flock to her, and not only join in the wailing, but, even when naturally of the mildest disposition, will join in attacking the robber. I have seen the gentle redbreast, joined by a dozen others, pursue the robber of the nest (who ran as the wicked run when none pursue) until he has been compelled to unpocket her young. I have been pecked by a flock of darting swallows when I have just left the nest with their eggs in my possession. I have frequently known weasels, when aggravated, to give a whistling alarm and so call forth their fellows, who have joined as assailants in avenging wrongs. It may be said that such alarms, with thousands more that might be named, are merely the natural cry. Grant that this is true, and that these beasts understand each other as we understand our newspapers. Does mere expression of different languages of this animated world have the power of stirring up in rabbits, weasels, birds, bees, and fishes, etc., fears, passions, love, hatred, or, in one word, sympathy? If so, the lower animals have a marvelous language, far exceeding, though so limited in its vocabulary, the eloquent tongues of the lords of creation, whose tens of thousands of words are not sufficient to express their similar sympathies without the addition of modulation and action. In the lower animals the verbal expression for the same feeling is always the same, yet, with educated man, it may be graduated in many ways, thought it never does its work better than in the simpler ways of lowlier life. Moreover, man's ways of calling forth sympathy are frequently misunderstood because of the trammeling prejudices of his illogically-founded higher civilization, whereas the lower animals never fail to obtain sympathy from their kind. All sympathy, in all life, is obtained by setting in motion the atoms of this universal etheriform element.
To merely answer it is instinct that makes classes of animals or insects act with one mutual accord seems to me not sufficiently conclusive logic to satisfy the inquiring mind. The machinery of a clock may be constant and unvarying in its actions, but the living instinct is in constant variation, which might be exemplified by a thousand influences. Suppose one to come unexectedly on a large number of wild rabbits feeding in a meadow, the first rabbit that sees the intruder stamps on the ground with his hind legs, and so makes a sign which is rather felt than heard, and immediately the whole lot, in alarm, take to their heels although they saw no cause for fear, and such would be the case although they had never been disturbed in their lives before. The particular alarm of the self-constituted leader strikes the sympathetic chord of the air wave, and so communication is made with every individual, even when the alarmist is neither heard nor seen.
I have admiringly watched bees working inoffensively at their hives. In the midst of their industrious innocence I have inadvertedly aggravated one altogether apart from the others, when he has emitted a peculiarly nauseous smell and made an unusual sound, with the effect that, quick as lightning, the whole colony, with warlike sounds and this offensive smell, has rushed upon me with stinging effect. Here, again, the whole multitude was instantly affected (quicker than either sound or smell could travel) by the disturbance of the etheriform wave. The signal was immediate, and to them universal.
In all animal life this subtle power comes into play with a remarkably clear and indisputable evidence, not only in the individual, but in collection or family, on land and in water, for the water no more affects the etheric force than does the intervening glass affect the magnetic force of the magnet. It is the experience of all anglers, including my own, that fishes are mysteriously (apparently) affected by influences that similarly sway the conditions of entire shoals, so that at one moment not a single one in any part of the river will take the fly or lure even from the best and most experienced angler with the finest and most enticing tackle, whilst at another moment a basket can be filled with the same fishes by the merest tyro at fishing. Whence this remarkable consensus of piscatorial opinion except by communications made through the universal etheriform wave to the shoals - or shoals miles apart - with which it is in sympathetic touch? The interesting details about fresh-water fishes that at regular fixed periods go to and return from the sea, as well as the apparently well reasoned out perennial tours of the seals to and from the Pribelov Islands, show a consensus of opinion that cannot be accounted for except by admitting the truth of the wonderful influence of this ether on the individual and shoals. So all knowledge known as instinct comes from the source of knowledge by this etheric link, and is more unerring than reason, because it is unimpeded by any prejudices.
The lower animals have their life-power specially protected by Nature in many different ways. Their color, for instance, is congenial to, and changes with the climatic changes of, their habitat. Furred animals, reptiles, and insects grow like the color of their surroundings; foxes and squirrels like the brown leaves, and the mountain hare like the snow. In fact, all lower creatures living under natural conditions have imposed upon them such natural protections to life. If it be the law of Nature that life should be so protected, why should the life in man not come under the same law with its special protection? He is naturally so protected. By the provisions of this natural law the lower animals a thousand times, in innumerable ways, escape the evils that their natural enemies would bring upon them, and so men have hairbreadth escapes which they attribute to fate, luck, kismet, and so on, when, in fact, it is the operation of this providentially-provided protecting law. The soul, the very center of manâ€™s life, has a psychic protection of ether, just as Nature in her simple ways protects other life; and, as one animal is differently protected from another, so one manâ€™s protection differs from anotherâ€™s without any previous disparity. The subtle psychological etheriform element is attached to man in different degrees of quantity and quality by inheritance of the individual, or by the development of the element. Psychologically speaking, whatever affects the life of man can only be conducted to his life-center by means of these rays or lines. Not only mental communications, but whatever can injure or benefit his life must approach him through these channels, which are material elements that cannot be destroyed or overcome by any material force which man can make or use. What may be called a life-protective chord cannot be traversed by a death-destroying power. If a man's life-center be surrounded by such protective chords, neither the bullets of an army nor the knife of the assassin can be fatal to him. The atoms of such ether could not be shattered by dynamite. All the material or moral acts of man must conform to the laws by which this element is governed. No motive power of his can succeed in violation of its laws. His mental efforts will fail when the end and aim of his intentions are not connected by this element. The evil intentions of an enemy cannot approach him except by such connection; nor can the sympathies of a friend otherwise affect him. The motive of life and the motive of death - or like and dislike - cannot act on the same line at the same time. Every stratum of air is round like the earth it surrounds; every ray of light is bent in its long journey from the sun by the unequally rarified strata of air through which it passes; guns are never fired in a straight line towards a distant object. Many divergencies from the straight line will at once present themselves to the reader's mind as being absolutely necessary in order to go straight. If a ball be fired straight at its distant object it will miss the mark. Should it then be considered a marvelous thing that, by the same law, an aim taken directly, say at a hero in battle, should diverge from that hero on those ether rays that protectively point past him? As a cannon ball ricochetes on the water, so would it glide from and not pierce, the etheriform wave charged with protective influence. While the molecules of the element are indestructible by any human power, yet ignorance or the will of man is sufficient to detach or disregard any etheric communication; but the element and the communication-wave are two very different things. While the communication may be disregarded or apparently lost, the etheric element itself cannot be avoided, nor can its work or influence be lessened because it is neither understood nor believed. The ether-protected is the hero in battle who is never touched when as good and as brave men fall thick around him. His body may be battered to unrecognition, but the ether-encased germ of life is never touched, as in the case of Sir Garnet Wolseley. Distinguished men may fall around him, while his very body is unscathed, as in the case of Garibaldi. Then, too, as the genius has a conscious knowledge of innate power so the hero in such time of danger has an innate feeling of safety. Many examples in history might be cited as being so peculiarly protected; but I prefer naming as examples men who have lived in my own day. As in such extreme cases, so all "lucky" men are thus ether-protected in less degree.
It is no rare thing for one to "imagine" he hears a voice addressing him when no one else present hears it. There may be no imagination or delusion about it. Two people at the ends of a telephone can converse while other people between listen in vain. Though perfect strangers, these two may well understand each other; so two persons, connected by the same chord of ether, receive the same communications. These communications may be utterly inapplicable or misunderstood by the receiver, so their source, end, and aim will be so irrelevant as to cause the communications to be considered mere wanderings of the mind, as in many cases they may be. Ideas, dreams, and visions may be thus communicated.
The bigger the cable is the stronger the possible current, and the greater the proximity to the motor the fewer will be the chances of losing the connection. The greater the number of ether rays that join two sympathic bodies the more nearly will these bodies be sympathetically allied. The more communicators sympathizers are united by the more closely will their minds, motives, and sympathies be fused. For instance, a hearer may understand a speaker well, and bring sympathy with him by simply listening, but he will hear better, understand better, and be more in sympathy by following him closely with his eyes also, and the psychological union will greatly increase by joining hands as well. The more closely the bodies are united the more nearly allied will the feelings be, for the ether lines of the one individual are switched on to those of the other.
If life-preserving atoms of ether entirely protect the individual, then death can have no power over him (although none are so entirely protected), but if these atoms or part of them be replaced by their contraries then there is immediate proof of the old proverb that "misfortunes never come singly;" whereas before it might justly have said of the same individual "fortune favors the fortunate." Truly, fortune favors the brave by fortifying him first with ether whose protective atoms have no conductivity for evil or disaster. A wise man will seek that environment in life which best favors the conductivity of ether which passes through him.
Where there is no connection there can be no communion. Without this natural sympathetic connection between the source of life and the soul there can be no communication, and the voice of the soul, which is prayer, is conveyed by means of these lines. There is no conductivity in the ether wire for selfish desires and motives, etc., which are not of the soul, but only sounds of the lips, so that the established connecting-rod between the living soul and the source of life is insulated from prayers that are not begotten in sympathy but at once run to earth. Lingual expressions are in themselves mere sounds, and as such are conducted on the lines of ether, but the intelligible message conveyed is the language of the soul, the heart, the motive, desire, etc., so that a prayer which is a mere selfish soliloquy of the tongue is transmitted as a simple unmeaning sound. There is no difference, except in modulation, between the bellowing of an ox, the braying of an ass, the noise of the wind, and the lingual sounds of the human voice. It would be a scientific, moral, and spiritual violation of the simplest laws of Nature if anything like one out of a thousand prayers were heard and answered.
The fine line of ether stretches, too, to vegetable life, for it is the connecting link between the source of life and all life, as well as a medium of sympathy and of psychological language. When the link is displaced the plant fades and dies; when it is diverted or unnaturally attenuated the flower droops. The sensitive plant (sensitiva planta), when its connecting ether is displaced by a draught caused by the sudden opening or shutting of the greenhouse door, or when it is touched, closes its fronds, and every limb collapses at its joints as if instantly and helplessly paralysed. No one ever saw a full-blown daisy after sunset. Every â€œstar of the meadowâ€ closes its flower when the life-giving heat and light are withdrawn from the ether by which its beauty is nourished. So all flowers are more or less influenced by deflection, dislocation, attenuation, etc., of the universal life-connecting chords. There are plants in which this ether disturbance closes the plant and the insect is caught. They are commonly called insect-catching flowers.
Clear, interesting, instructive, and conclusive proofs of the existence and use of this universal etheriform element are innumerable, and that especially among domestic animals, but the few examples I have selected have purposely been chosen from my own observation from the undomestic or wild class to preclude the objection that their intelligence has been the result of training rather than that of nature.
The ancients undoubtedly believed in astrology, and I am convinced that by what they called astrology they knew a great deal of truth. I do not believe in astrology, but I am willing to believe that to call this particular belief of the ancients "astrology" is a mere misnomer. It may only have been a popular name that carried no genuine idea of the fundamental principles of belief as held by the initiates. Popularly, they believed that individuals were born under lucky or unlucky stars. Rays passing from the stars at the time of nativity conveyed, and that through life, good or bad luck, etc., to the new-born individual whose existence was attached to such rays. It is a fact that many horoscopes have been accurately cast, and I am inclined to think that these astrologers, without knowing it, were dealing with the same ether rays with which this philosophy is concerned. They seemingly thought, and the wrongness of this thought would not affect the power of the element, that the rays proceeded from the stars, whereas this philosophy maintains that they all proceed from the one source of all life, truth, and knowledge. I believe the astologer's philosophy was founded on the belief of the existence of this ether, although their belief in its originating source bound their faith to the influence of the stars. Doubtless the etheric magnetic force permeates and passes through the stars in its course as through an intervening sheet of paper, and so, in this sense, the conducting element is correctly stated to come from the stars; or, as a ray of light can be deflected, so can a ray of ether, and this belief may have been held by these astrologers that as the ether was affected by deflection caused by the intervention of a certain star, so that star was said to affect the life of the individual with whom it was connected. I think that learned astrologers believed in the etheric connecting-rod between heaven and earth, and because of the knowledge derived from this belief they were well called "wise men.â€
Society is an eccentricity of circles of human nature surrounding each other and intermingling like a solar system, and, without knowing it, is regulated by the government of the etheric waves. As birds of a feather flock together, so people through whom the same etheric wave passes will be sympathetically attracted. Does it follow from this that all the individual members of a clique, set, or circle will be in the closet sympathetic touch? Not at all. Ten thousand chords may pass through each individual, and yet only one of these through the whole circle. The chord that unites the circle may be of the very smallest dimensions of those that pass through their individual systems, whilst the strongest chords that pass through them may make them miserable in the society to which they are bound by a small one. Thus congenial gaiety may surround a sad and cheerless heart. Many in the highest circles, for instance, are bound by the very slenderest attachment of social self-interest, and yet the heart is yearningly craving, with ever-growing appetite, for a different sphere of higher knowledge or nobler aims than those of the circle. If the same etheric lines passed through, say, a dozen persons of similar constitutions and apprehensions and apperceptions, they, known to each other, would live in the closest human sympathy possible. Their interests, aims, and opinions would be similar. Where there is nothing - no etheric ray - in common, there can neither be sympathy nor friendship, and in all likelihood, though not necessarily, there will be repulsion. As a matter of fact, neither individuals nor societies can avoid submitting to the laws that govern this universal element, although they neither understand nor believe them, and but for this compulsory government LIFE would be more inexplicable than it now is. There are many instances of "lucky" families. Belief in luck is belief in fate, and yet those who so believe will not allow themselves to be called fatalists. Everybody knows some family whose members are so rightly distinguished for success and happiness in life. No family can compare - as a proof of fate with that of the Royal Stuarts. Yet, accordingly to this philosophy, there is no such thing as family luck. Careful observation will prove that at least one of the parents of a so called lucky family is particularly discerning, and this discernment is specially exercised, even in the smallest matters, to watching the natural tendencies of the minds of the children. Without knowing it, they daily watch the etheric influences that are at work on the expanding life, and give their children a start in life in some sphere congenial to these influences, where they cannot but become healthy, happy, and successful. Unlucky children are such as are placed in life like tropical plants that a foolish gardener places at the door of an icehouse. There are tens of thousands of lads by the indiscernment of their parents doomed, at their very start, to despair in life, and the burden is thrown on the back of non-existing fate.
The spiritual life of man is nourished from without himself. This external sustenance is no rare phenomenon in creation. There is no special law of Nature to control it. The law that controls the one phenomenon or state of existence also controls every condition of life, whether in the animal or vegetable world, in earth, air, and water. Every living thing in the vegetable world has to spread its roots into congenial soil and draw therefrom, by its own natural efforts, sustenance suitable to its own existence. Each root is capable of taking in, and does frequently imbibe uncongenial nourishment, but such nourishment or foreign substance thwarts or otherwise affects its growth and decay. Nature does not â€œmechanicallyâ€ close the mouths of the fibers of trees against substances foreign to this natural aliment, but permits them to take in even poisons which, from force of circumstances or situations, they have no more power to refuse than a human being has to effectually and entirely resist the influences of prevailing habits. The trees are the sufferers. I presume it would have been an easy matter for the Creator to have made birds self-nourishing, or so that they, from the air itself, might have fed themselves while they sat and sang. Happily, this is not Nature's way. Birds are busy working for their living all day long, and must naturally use great discretion in the choice of foods. As with them, so with the intellect of man, the whole world is available for nourishment to choose from, but the food most conducive to the best health is very limited. So it is with the inhabitants of water; they are naturally created to make choice of congenial food, and can only eat other nourishment to their own detriment, which need not necessarily always be to their immediate destruction. Ignorance and immorality are "nourishments" that destroy the true life of man. Amongst the lower animals the same law of Nature is in full force. No living creature is self-sustaining. It is the work of each one's existence to seek suitable extraneous sustentation for its life. Each is capable of eating material dangerous to its health, but each nature has its own peculiar nourishment and adaptability for receiving it. So man, as the representative of the highest stage of animal life, can act independently of this law of Nature on which he is naturally made to depend, but it can only be at his own risk. He must provide suitable food and feed himself, otherwise his body cannot be â€œnaturally" nourished in the best condition. If the law works so clearly in these animal and lower states of existence, why should it be considered an extraordinary thing that the highest created human existence should be compelled by the same law to seek its existence from prescribed sources extraneous to itself? If life-giving power can only be obtained by all other known life from fixed sources, why should the intellectual life not find its life-giving or motive power from its appointed fountainhead? The analogy is too close and too universal not to be visible to all willing to see. Animal life is not conveyed by means of these etheric waves, nor is the nutriment of any animal or vegetable life so conveyed, but the entire nourishment or spirit life of man is so transmitted. â€œAllâ€ sympathetic attraction or repulsion comes by such media. All animal life, including that in the body of man, has otherwise been provided with means of self-preservation and recuperation. All life that is not animal in man is thus nourished from the source of life. In all lower life-creations than man the existing sympathies are so conveyed. While the powers of instinct in animals and their ORGANS of sympathy are sustained from this source and by this means, the whole spiritual (all that is not human) existence of man is entirely dependent on this etheric sustentation, and therefore his connection is infinitely stronger.
All the lower animals devote the greater part of their time to finding out suitable sustenance for their lives, and, although poisons abound in the closest proximity to their natural provender, for which they might easily be mistaken, yet it is an exceedingly rare thing to find an animal poison itself by a mistaken choice of food. Birds, fishes, and all created living creatures (that might just as easily have been created without the necessity for troubling themselves about their preservation) are born with the natural necessity for finding out food. In the vegetable world the same law prevails. Even man himself must put himself to the trouble of feeding his body. Not only is the necessity for providing nourishment for the continuation of life in all created things and creatures, but also they are all created to know what is their natural nourishment, and how and where to obtain it. Is it an extraordinary thing that the analogy should hold good in all life, and that the living soul and intellect should be bound by the same law of necessity and organisation? Why, either, should there be an exception to the knowledge of the how and where this nourishment should be obtained? While everything else is provided for by the great Creator, why should the nourishment of the mind and intellect be left to the scholastic contents of books, the fruits of genius, or discoveries of science? Has the Creator provided for the beast and left the soul and intellect in man's hand? If so, the soul is in a lower position in creation than the commonest weed that grows. But the soul does know what nourishment to seek, and it knows how and where to obtain and seek it. Its nourishment is properly sought at the source of all life and truth by the medium of the etheriform element. Creatures of the dust, including man's body are fed from the dust, and the knowledge of how to feed comes to them exactly by the same law and medium by which the highest knowledge comes. The soul is part of God Himself, and is maintained as part of Himself, by Himself, and not from any earthly source, in accordance with the same universal law that nourishes all life, and by means of the same universal element by which all life and knowledge come. History shows many periodical upheavals among the people, but never was their heartfelt anguish so great as at the present day (1892). Often has the outcry of nations been heard for bread, but the deep wailing of the present day, although it only seems a clamour for the rights of men in a kind of political sense, is really a cry for light and truth. As the child cries without knowing why, so humanity now utters a loud lamentation for what it cannot express. It is as if human nature were crying for a much-needed sixth sense. It can hear, see, smell, taste, and touch, but it yearns for a definite, tangible knowledge of truth. It is born in darkness, reared in doubt, fed on unrealised hope, and has to struggle with despair, but it wants a sense to understand all the inexplicable conditions of life. It religiously renounces the world as an illogical sphere of probation, and looks with doubtful hope to an unknown future for peace and happiness - a future that cannot be practically anticipated, but is, as a last resource, accepted in faith, although the faith of actual, temporal experience has been but a repeated delusion that naturally begets a doubt in the future that, without any human logical reason, is denounced as sinful. Darkness at birth, darkness in life, darkness in death, and darkness beyond! There is no wonder that civilized, enlightened man yearns for light and truth, and for a sense to understand himself. Human nature wants a sense of understanding as reliable as hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching, and surely to thinking and reasonable mortals it is more necessary than all the other five senses together, for it is the sense required by the soul part of man, whereas the other five are common to man and other animals. Yet this sixth sense is actually given to human nature, although it will neither believe nor understand it. The sense is dormant and wants bringing to consciousness, or rather the dormant owner wants to be made conscious of his possesion of the sense.
The dormant consciousness itself is, in this generation, after the great successes of science, making a supreme effort to rouse the living self-assertion of this apparently dead faculty or sense. The sixth sense itself is struggling hard for a new birth and recognition. It has always existed for the service of man, and now he, unconscious of its existence, is demanding its service without knowing it.
Man will believe that his frame has lost, through disuse, limbs, yet it seems never to strike him that by the self-same law of Nature he has lost a sense, or let it lapse into a state of inanition. Now, in his darkness, he is crying for its help without knowing of its existence. There is a great social upheaval now developing through this very groping demand; unfortunately, it is being diverted into political channels, and so the geniune development will be retarded. As political ends are attained, nothing but disappointing paltry politics holds out some apparently satisfying lure, and distracts the intellectual attention from the real source of all discontent and human craving. Every new political reform is but a puny wile that beguiles the earnest research for truth into an alluring but never satisfying course. There is a national cry of distress from every civilized nation. It is a psychological, not political cry. Never was there such a human cry for help. In the secret chamber the heart that knows its own sorrow cries in the dead of its night for light. Religious bodies publicly recite their creeds with a vague satisfaction that will not bear the strict scrutiny of conscientious analysis. Many honest and good people exile themselves from their fellows in the vain hopes that thus away from contamination they may see the light and the truth, because they misunderstand the craving of their souls for this sixth sense. The masses strive against the classes because Nature cries aloud in them to believe and trust this sense and relieve it from its bondage, but they only judge their condition by their five recognised senses, which tell them they are downtrodden and despised by their fellows in better social circumstances, who themselves live in darkness and endure similar struggles about the mysteries of life. The struggle for social equality goes on in the belief that that will be the antidote for all the ills their flesh is politically heir to. Nothing but equality of darkness can come of it. Men are unwittingly trying to satisfy the cry of the soul with political food. The living soul cries aloud for food which is not merely religion, and men try to feed it with carnal food, which it refuses. Man demands his political rights, and overlooks the demands of his highest intellect for its rights, which are knowledge, light, and truth, and as long as these demands are unsatisfied there will be no peace. These demands will never be satisfied until this sixth sense is recognised and obeyed. The recognition of this sense lies in the belief that "in the Creator is that sympathy which the creature, by created means made known to him, must imbibe as the requisite motive power for promoting true human happiness." All hitherto unaccountable discontent in the world is caused by the efforts of this sixth sense to resuscitate itself. The great detriment to the abolition of this discontent is that it invariably seeks a political refuge, and political place-seekers have no difficulty in baiting their bellowing tongues with illusory promises. Were it possible to abolish politics, the great producer of suppressed human fever, the resurrection of the sixth sense would soon take place. The great war between labor and capital is a mere political diversion from the real point at issue; it is the originating cause of the discontent made by the determined assertion of this sixth sense for the possession of its right sphere in the constitution of man. So every political reform is the human remedy for satisfying the misunderstood craving of this innate power. Some are so weak in discernment that they cannot perceive in themselves any signs of the existence of this sense. Some know there is a demanding power within them for the accomplishment of some duty, but they cannot definitely discern what it is. If inward discernment were cultivated the song of life would be very different. The wrong remedies are applied to intellectual ailments. The miseducated but good youth who is determined to do well in the world starts life with the inviolate ten commandments enthroned on a clear conscience, yet finds the battle of life unreasonably hard. Is it to be wondered at that all his noble, useless efforts should produce instability of character and scepticism? On the contrary, the wonder is that he does not become an atheistical iconoclast, and set his face against everything human and divine. How can a man attain to faith in what produces nothing but disappointment, and when faith or hope is gone how can there be stability of character? Any philosophy that has no equivalent for this sixth sense must produce instability of character - a ruinous weakness in man, government, and nations. National systems of education admit that the individual is guided by the providence of God, but not that each individual has, as it were, that guiding providence in his constitution as a part of himself. It follows that those who are not specially led by special providence are beyond the pale of providence. This is an unjustifiable belief, and accepts the position of man as being not "a little lower than the angels" but as a great deal lower than that of brute beasts, for even the sparrows are cared for by a special providence.
By the time the habits of manhood are formed a man's system is, as it were, magnetized or charged with certain habits or sympathies that are attractive or repellant to other sympathies, so that the influences conveyed by some etheric rays affect the individuals in a way similar to that in which the magnet attracts steel, and other influences are repulsed. Thus etheric rays, conveying the highest truth and clearest intellectual light, may pass through an individual who has, from want of use, habitual callous indifference, or otherwise, lost all power of apprehending that particular truth or light. Thus in its circuit that truth is disregarded and lost as far as the individual is concerned, because there is no sympathetic attraction between that truth and his constitutional habit. The power to apprehend truth that comes naturally to an individual, and can only be subdued or obliterated by habit. No nut grows without its kernel, and no truth comes to man without the accompanying power to apprehend it. A man who is naturally weak of apprehension is one whom Nature has very sparsely supplied with light and ether-conveyed truth. To whom much light is given there is also naturally supplied strong apprehension or apperception; but the strongest natural apprehension may be dulled by prejudicial habit. In youth this apprehension is always strongest, because the prejudices of life are not brought into play. The works of young poets, for instance, often show a clear insight into mystic powers in man; but as maturity comes that is, as experience of an illogical world lays hold on the intellect - the dreams of the young poet become more materialized, nearer to political truth, more coincident with false life, more real in appearance, and actually less true. The most advantageous study for any man to pursue, the most utilitarian as well, is what sympathetic outflows most naturally and strongly affect or attract his natural disposition. His sixth sense will at once answer him. Six different flowers may be placed before six different people, and, by their individual sense of smell, they may all decide differently; but, it is presumed, they will all decide which is the pleasantest to each. So with the sixth sense, each individual will choose the sympathies that best agree with his natural tastes if he has no prejudices, and with his habit-constitution if he follow the political laws of the world. The more a man, with his natural will power, submits to these natural sympathies the more natural will his life be. The more closely his nature assimilates with them the more he will live in his true element in life, and the more he repels them, as his free will has the power to do, the further out of his natural sphere in life will he exist. The sympathies that are thus in his natural environment, he can never destroy, although, by disregarding them, and so, by cultivating others which are less natural, he can mitigate in their effect, and reduce their influence to a minimum. The natural sympathies of a youth, for example, may be chiefly of a truly moral and religious kind, and yet he may become a great delinquent from the paths of rectitude. But in all his enjoyment of sin the inflow of his natural sympathies will make him miserable not only in his solitude, but also in the midst of his sin. There can be no peace for him except in his natural environment, and a man who wishes to reform must, in order to be successful, aim at getting back as nearly as possible to the innocent aspirations of his youth. The effect of the loss of the sense of taste could only be realized by experience. Fancy the condition of the epicure who smacks his moistening lips with joy at the very rememberance of some savory taste or over the anticipation of some delicious bite, under the loss of a sense which to him is before all others, the principal. For him, when taste is lost, all pleasure is gone from life. He has nothing left but the memory of what he can never again experience, although he may continually be tormented by the sweet anticipation of enjoying what he sees, smells, and imagines. It is a very great happiness to eat when one is hungry, but what a deprivation of pleasure there is when the palate has lost its functions of distinguishing between savory and unsavory tastes.
A man struck so incurably blind that he knows no difference between the darkness and the light has the happy memories of sight, the strong desire to see, and the fatal knowledge that he never will see again. For the rest of his lifetime he must grope his way, and be even indebted to some material or friendly help for the small pittance of moving in the dark. The sun sets to rise again, clouds may momentarily darken mid-day, but from him the light is hopelessly shut out. The dearest friend of his life can never brighten his existence with one visible smile. His visible world is small as that of the frog encased in aqueous rock. He goes to sleep in the dark, wakes up in the dark, lives in the dark, and yet knows there exists a light he can never be benefited by. Friends and foes are alike beyond his vision. The beauties of Nature and the grandeur of the heavens are but dreams or memories. The naturally increased strength of his hope weakens his constantly disappointed courage. Objects within his reach are inapproachable; he is in a worse plight than that of Tantalus. When attacked he cannot defend himself, and when he would attack his opponent is invisible to him. He is ostracised from all things visible.
The deaf man often grows suspicious and ungenerous, and so endures additional agony in the tormenting idea that people who ought to be his friends calumniate him in the face of those with whom he is particularly anxious to stand well. He can appreciate no sweet harmonies nor listen to the melodies of sound. The voices of love and hatred alike call in vain. He knows he is enduring the silence of solitude in the midst of a noisy, bustling world, and he feels that he is crushed out of its existence as a thing useless to it.
It would be easy to speak of the inconveniences and miseries which result from the loss of anyone of the five senses. What an awful state of imbecility it is to be deprived of them all! How inhuman a piece of thinking mechanism a mortal must be who has mind, yet none of the five senses! If such a mind were healthy it could only be a useless light shut within the dark walls of a human body.
Every corporeal pleasure is provided for with a special function of appreciation. This wonderful world is full of fragrance, and the poor mortal body that we pretend to despise, as compared with the soul, is specially fitted by a beneficent Creator with a sense to appreciate it. The heavens and the earth are full of glory and beauty, and a sense of sight is specially provided to the perishing body to see and admire them. Lullabies and melodies are ever existent, and we have two ears for the reception of their charms. It is the special work of the earth to produce delicious fruits, and we have a palate of special construction for the enjoyment of them. How is it that man can for a moment imagine that an all-wise Creator could put into such a noble construction as man a soul-life capable of knowing all things, capable of being affected in ten thousand ways, and leave it without any sense of appreciation or discrimination? No wonder this sense is now, in this enlightened age, itself demanding restoration. It is almost incredible that the knowledge of this sense should have been lost by the great majority of mankind. Had it been any sense that affected his stomach it would have been better looked after. An active mind in an imbecile body - if such be possible - might argue that there was no such thing as a sense, but men of sense would only treat the belief as being utterly beneath contempt. To superior powers it must seem a most extraordinary thing that man should discredit the existence of this sixth sense.
Think of the soul-life of man, cognisant of all things visible and invisible, being deprived of every sense of appreciation of everything that approaches it and affects it. To deprive one of a carnal sense must be a comparatively small matter compared with the condition of the undying soul-life that is deprived of the use of its sense. Restore this sense to its legitimate use and the soul-life will see clearly, the clouds will pass away and show the blue sky beyond, and life will be real and well worth living.
This sixth sense that dwells in us is the one by which we discern and appreciate sympathy, in the same way that the ear discerns sound. This is the God-given sense that tells a man how many vibrations of the etheric chord are required to induce any particular sympathy. This is the sense that tells a man how to be natural before he is religious. This is the sense that distinguishes the truth of life. This is the one great sense of the soul that does more important work than all the five senses of the body. This is the sense that politics above all has tried to kill but cannot even bury alive. This is the sense that cannot be obliterated although constantly despised, and this is the sense whose being despised causes all the fears, vexations, doubts, and uncertainties of life that seem not worth living to those who have lost the use of this sense. This is the sense that can tell a man what his life chord is - that is what is his greatest sympathy or strongest tendency in life. This is the sense that distinguishes sympathy in all its grades, a knowledge that makes life and all its objects clear as day, and enables a man to see how it is that his chief end in life is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, and to see that one happy man is greater glory to God than five hundred miserable sinners.
No one of the senses is so keenly alive to its duties as the sense of taste. It is the sense that gratifies the appetite. What a pleasure it is for a hungry man to eat! Taste is undoubtedly the master-sense, because it is daily, nay, constantly cultivated. Smell is the second sense that ministers to the gratification of appetite, and therefore stands second in power. Thoughtless people will at once say; No; seeing is infinitely more powerful by cultivation than smelling. As a matter of fact, few people cultivate the sense of seeing, although all think and say they do cultivate it. For instance, it is fashionable to travel, therefore people travel and tell what they SEE: the fact is, they only see the guide-book. They are barely able to distinguish between beauty and ugliness unless the latter takes the form of a grotesqueness which all the while may be the beauty of ugliness. It is wonderful how very few people SEE. The less a sense has to do with the gratification of appetite the less it is attended to and cultivated, so, of all the senses, the sixth has the least to do with carnal matters, and therefore is neglected to an abnormal extent which seems an extinction. It is best and highest of the senses, but has no gastronomic duties, and therefore no fascination for man, whose heart can only be reached through his stomach, just as the practical charity of the rich can only be captivated by a public dinner. The sixth sense is the servant of the drawing-room, but taste dwells in the cellar-kitchen; comparatively few people have a drawing-room, but cooking must be done. One is almost forced to the belief that "we may sympathize but we must eat," although the truth is "we must sympathize and we must eat." Is it an unpardonable exaggeration to think that this sixth sense should be capable of knowing the number of vibrations required to distinguish or produce any sympathy? Does a man have to consider all the physical differences between a rough and a smooth surface before he can tell the quality of that surface after touching it? No; the quality is a self-evident fact to the sense of touch. Must a man first describe all the chemical differences between one article and another which differently affect his palate before he can tell its taste? No; the peculiarity is a self-evident fact to his sense of taste. Must one first analyze the component parts and differences between one scene and another before he can by comparison tell one is beautiful and the other ugly? No; the quality is self-evident to his sense of sight. Must a man diagnose the ingredients of what produces different sensations on his nasal organ before he can decide the smell? No; the quality is a self-evident fact to his sense of smell. Must a man first be able to describe the differences between the nature and number of vibrations required to produce one sound and the other before he can appreciate one as harmonious and the other as discordant? No; the quality is self-evident to his sense of hearing. Why on earth, them, should it be considered a wonderful thing or an exaggeration to say that this sixth sense should be able to distinguish by intuition the number of vibrations required to produce a sympathy? It seems incredible that the sense should not be believed in.
For the idea of calling this the sixth sense I am indebted to Mrs. Bloomfield-Moore. Four years ago I expressed my idea of this sense in an insignificant pamphlet which had no circulation and which was condemned by its name. Hoping now for better things, I call it, as she simply and significantly calls it, a sixth sense. In justice to her I here append her opinion:-
"It is this superhuman influence, felt most by those who have educated the hidden sense (with which all men are born), which inspires all discovery, all invention, all poetry, all of truth, let it take whatever form it may. The sixth sense is as much undeveloped in the mass of mankind as sight would be had we been born with our eyelids sealed; able to distinguish nothing beyond the period of daylight from the reign of night, and remaining sealed all the years of our life on earth. We know that some spiritually-minded persons seem to possess unknown powers unknown to those who are spoken of in Scripture as 'the carnal minded;' and it may be that with dim vision they are able to discern 'as in a glass darkly,' without education of this hidden sense, truths which are hidden from others. Of such are our men and women of genius. Again, there are others who possess uncertain, unreliable powers, which often lead astray those who commit themselves to the direction of these powers. What does this prove beyond the fact that a human being is never an infallible medium of superhuman influence? 'Spiritualism' represents a great truth, behind the 'spiritism' which stands in the same relation toward it that counterfeit coin holds to sterling gold. The operations of our sixth sense are as liable to be deceptive as are the operations of our other senses, and are limited or governed by law in the same way. We cannot see in total darkness, and this hidden power, susceptible of education, can only be brought into use by an illuminated mind a mind that has studied the laws of evolution and involution, the descent of spirit into matter, and the reascension of matter to spirit laws of the life-impulse beginning in the elemental kingdom and ending in an evolution of man of the present day. 'Man and woman as units,' continues Oliphant, 'are still so ignorant of the great powers which they themselves inherit that they wholly fail to see them, though they sweep like mighty seas throughout all human nature.'"
There is a law of compulsion as well as a law of liberty. Animals are compelled to live in air, and fishes are compelled to live in water. Men ought to live according to the law of liberty, not licence, and when they do not they break the law. To a law-abiding subject an ignorant law-breaker must be a laughing-stock, who, perhaps, ought to be pitied in return for his amazement at the frequent punishments that come upon him. He does little deeds that seem to be all right, and is forthwith punished. To him it is puzzling, but to the knowing ones it is the simple sequence to his acts. It is exactly the same with mankind who break the laws of Nature, only there are not many â€œknowing onesâ€ to look on. They do not know they are breaking the law, because they act on the adopted illogic of the world, and so there is amazement at punishment. They avoid the light, and are surprised at being in the dark. The knowledge of the law is actually in them, but practically not. Tired out with their experiments with the law of liberty, they run to the other extreme and seek to avoid this free will of theirs, and proceed to try experiments with the law of compulsion, with a like result of disappointment. Free will and its results fail them so often that they are willing to abandon their birthright for a mess of prospective pottage. Of course it is not their free will that ought to be blamed at all, but they say it is; the spectacles that are placed at the back of the head cannot reasonably be said to be useless for seeing. In many cases men see that the law of compulsion brings them far more real life - although it should not be so - than their own wrongly guided free will does. Politics always presents illusory examples to be envied by discontents where Nature seems to fail. Men for this very reason weakly demand governments to help where they cannot help themselves, because they overlook Nature that is both able and willing to help them. The fact is men want to be compelled to do right in spite of the law of liberty. Even in domestic matters and hours of labor they want legislative compulsion. It is a strong acknowledgement of weakness. The evil is produced by the wrong conduct of free will. The sixth sense which is immediately connected with free will is disbelieved and disregarded. One who has lost his hearing does not expect to hear sweet sounds.
There is a vast number of dark lanterns giving light in this world. People themselves in utter darkness, except in their own opinion, expound the light that lighteth the world. Conceit does not even give the light of the glow-worm, but it is the only light that many public teachers have. With this assumed paltry semblance of light poor humanity must grope - poor humanity that manufactures and clings to its own bondage, and cries for release, like a drowning swimmer who cries for help, but who does not try to swim. I can imagine no system of machinery so complete in all its details as the mechanism of this universe. It has not an atom of discrepancy, not a single piece unfinished or misplaced. The fitness of all things is complete, and every line of beautiful symmetry is clearly defined without being obtrusively seen. In light and shade it is perfection, and with all its sublimity of Almighty power. Yet all its glory, all its power and all its grand simplicities and beauties are constantly being overshadowed by the effect of the poor human lights that man in his illogical wisdom would irradiate it with.
This world is full of misunderstandings and disappointments for the same reason that a wardrobe is full of clothes; they are put there. Disappointment is the result of unrealized hope, and unrealized hope is the result of misplaced confidence, which can only begotten by misunderstood sympathy. A man who has a happy home at a distance, and who purposely or inadvertently comes off his train at the wrong station, should not be disappointed at not finding his home and heart's desire there. This is what disappointed people are daily doing; they fix their hopes definitely, and yet expect the fulfillment of them in the wrong time and place. In vain they cry, "Oh cruel fate!"
Poor society is unjustly the butt of enthusiastic jealousy and wrongfully opposed by another. Society is a model of good intentions, and, withal, is practical in its principles. It is constantly and plausibly struggling to do well and attains to marvelous rectitude. Calmly analyze any of its motives, and it is impossible to reasonably find fault with its reasons, judgements, and actions if its premises be allowed. What is the fundamental principle of society's actions? On the very face of it, â€œto deceiveâ€ at once answers the severe, unyielding reformer. â€œNot at all,â€ say I. Its aim is to put the best face on things, to hide the natural and so inevitable blemishes and weaknesses of human nature. â€œHuman nature,â€ practically says well-meaning society, â€œis a poor unfinished work of Providence which I must cover with skilful adornment. I must assume for it a virtue which Nature or the Creator has denied it.â€ Do not blame civilized society, for it is the artist that finishes the Deity's unfinished work. It is the schoolmaster who puts on the polish the Maker neglected. Man would wear the common feathers of the common sparrow if society did not variegate and beautifully paint the human plumage with an exquisite finishing touch that the Great Architect either forgot or could not approach. Society is the great refiner through those hands the creature must necessarily pass after coming from the hands of the Creator. Society knows the frailty of our frame, and bolsters it up so as artiscally to hide its deformities. Surely society is the benefactor of civilization! Do not denounce its weakness, for it is a creator in itself. Acting on the accepted logic of the times, no ranting preaching or enthusiastic philosophy will ever make an essential material improvement at society's core, and the wonder is that, in the face of opposition, it has not long ago gone to the dogs in despair and cold-blooded disgust.
Socialism is disgusted with society, and wants to build a temple of its own on the self-same foundation, and with the very materials it would demolish. The architect is the same, the design the same, but the painting outside and the veneering within, which the wear and tear of time would obliterate, are to be different. Civilization now demands a great upheaval, but, like the upturning that is annually given to the soil, the effect would be great without being lasting or the improvement permanent. The soil would yield more for the time, but, by a law of Nature, would become impoverished, and the end would be worse than the beginning. The honest Socialist is working out for himself and his country a snare and a delusion. The remedy for human ills will be sought in vain in the mere demolition of society. Socialism and society are alike usurpers, even if they may be well-meaning ones. For society's whips socialism will provide scorpions. The intentions of both are good, but good results will never be accomplished, in the highest sense, by either as long as the foundations are rotten. Society gives its sympathy and its purse to the poor; Socialism, in its highest sense, will have no poor, and will provide old age with a pension. Both aims are noble in the highest degree, if attainable, but what real, lasting happiness does it bring to the unfinished thing, humanity, that remains full of hopes and fears alike unrealized? Enrich a miserable man and he is miserable still. The craving of the soul and intellect is untouched by the acquisition of wealth, for no aggrandisement of material riches can ever satisfy the spiritual part of man, and that is his supreme and dominant part. Rich men are more unhappy than the poor when the craving of the soul receives no nourishment.
Carnal wounds, immoral deformities, and temperamental enormities everyone at present acknowledges to be as natural to human weakness as acorns are to the oak, yet this philosophy affirms they are as mistletoe parasites. Society considerately drapes these with a very transparent gauze on which she paints pictures of modest virtue. Like a hen brooding over her chickens, society preserves the members of her class who are stricken with natural human frailities from the voracious world of impurity that would devour them. Society is to be commended for not giving up her weaklings to the torment of the vox populi. She is intensely humane in her treatment of poor humanity. If "man was made to mourn," no self-constituted human sympathizer could ever exceed the benign efforts of society to hide faults and defaulters. Society is the foster-mother of all that is made good in deformed humanity. Does society dwell in the temple of hypocrisy? That the heart of man is only evil, and that continually, is the adopted opinion of religion. Were this evil heart constantly exposed, what a spectacle of loathsomeness would ever present itself! Society knows this, and adorns until it hides the secret communings and public conversations with suave language and veneered smiles of appropriate virtue, that makes vice itself look like a bride adorned for her wedding; and surely this is a public virtue and reformation in appearance that ought to make ill-finished man proud of himself and thankful to society. Not only does she do this, but for the sake of example kneels and publicly prays on Sundays, "Have mercy on us miserable sinners," meaning not herself but the outside us.
Poor maligned society is to be pitied, for she struggles into martyrdom like an honest reformer with good intentions, illogical and misplaced, if not useless. Let her actions and motives be diagnosed without prejudice. For example's sake she goes to church; for pity's sake she lavishes charity ungrudgingly; for sympathy's sake she clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, provides asylums for the imbecile and insane, builds hospitals, temples, and schools, raises useful memorials to the dead who were useful in their lives, assauges the miseries of the fatherless and widows, extols virtue and deprecates vice, and, with becoming self-denial, lives temperately when she might be luxurious. This is noble work. Truly, society's virtues are greater and more numerous than her vices. Yet, what is the value of all this practical virtue? Misplaced confidence, misused power, a mere suppression of fever, not a cure, a liberal ministration of cocaine to deaden pain she cannot cure. Her motives are good, her actions are good, and yet they but serve to hide hideous appearances, not to lessen a single psychical wound. It is the best that can be done under the misapprehensions that "man was made to mourn," and that it is human to err. The illogical beliefs about the source and course of real life lead to such actions that are diametrically opposed to the truest interests of human life. They are the trumpery cures of utilitarian politics. The doctor misunderstands the disease and its origin, and his cure fails. Through simple ignorance the treatment is wrong and fatal. Flesh is heir to no more ills than are common to all life.
Equality of life is unnatural and unnecessary. People do not naturally complain of their color; neither have they any natural or reasonable complaint against the inequalities of life. What real nature does not desire life does not require. Will force is unequal: sympathies, therefore, cannot be equal, and consequently positions in life must be unequal. Sympathethic surroundings or sympathetic equalities are all that anyone's life demands, and has a right to demand. To demand more is to crave for a surfeit; to demand less is to under-feed or starve one's nature. It is incumbent on every kind of life to try to get enough of what is truly requisite for its sustenance. For one to demand the same as his neighbor is to demand an inequality, for there are not two persons exactly equal in will force, and therefore no two can have the same sympathetic environment. To demand sympathy from the world equal to the sympathy in oneâ€™s nature is to demand true equality. The cry for equality is the cry of political humbug.
Working men demand their rights, and they are quite right; but their arguments ought to be founded on right and justice. On what ground can labor demand equality with capital? Grant that a working man is good as a master, which, as men, ought to be the case. Ought therefore the master and the man to receive equal wages? It is manifestly unfair, and equality of payment is an injustice; for the capitalist has great risk, and the workman has none. The man demands his right in the form of money, and money ought therefore to be the basis of his logic. He must value himself at so much. If a convention of workmen reasonably value themselves at, say, x dollars a year each, then every x dollars the capitalist has in the concern ought to be reckoned as one man working for him, and whose wages he ought to receive. If the capitalist has 10 times x in the concern he ought to be paid for 11 men, that is one for himself and 10 for his money. This would be equality of labor if there were no risk. Under no conditions are all men equal. To seek equality is to pursue the unattainable will-o'-th'-wisp.
If all the money in the world were equally distributed among the people of Great Britain there would not be funds enough, if all combined, to cut a road out of Darkest England as long as the fact is not recognized that the motive power of life is at the supreme source of life with which all are in direct material connection, and that we have in us a sixth sense to appreciate this fact and to recognize sympathy and its source. Leveling up or leveling down is neither possible nor desirable, and, if either were both possible and accomplished, its continuance would be impracticable. To work is the glory and necessity of life, and, as the work of individuals must necessarily always be unequal, so must the wages for work be unequal. The cry for equality is an empty political stop-gap cry to gag the unrecognised demand of the dethroned sixth sense for its rights.
When a youth is launched on the world he assumes a definite habit, or second nature. The second nature is altogether different from his first nature. The latter is real, and the former false. Because he follows the false, and reasons from its concomittant logical premises, life is a mystery. His second nature is formed by adopting, not the true world's ways, but man's. That he should adopt the habit is the inevitable sequence to his adopting the beliefs of men, instead of adhering to the dictates of true nature. Everything he is taught from his youth up points to this habit, or second nature, as being necessary to his life.
Every example shown him directs him to the same end. The adoption of a false world's false premises forces the false conclusion upon him; there is no way out of it. If man be what philosophy and religionists show him to be, it is necessary that he should above all things become worldly wise. But a man can be wise without being good or natural. The world's greatest criterion of a man's worth is therefore the amount of a man's worldly wisdom. How eagerly parents wish their children to be wise, although they know, and publicly acknowledge, that the world's wisdom is vanity of vanities. The world plots and the youth counter-plots, if he can outwit it he is wise, and he and his parents are proud of the wisdom. The assumption of this second nature is a matter of great and critical concern to all; yet the assumption of it obliterates the poetry of life. With it the young man puts on his armor for the battle he sees lying before him. Previously he foresaw no conflict, for Nature painted a natural life, and habit now throws him into an artificial one. He has gradually lost the knowledge of the use of his sixth sense, but this will force daily grows stronger, and produces such vibratory sympathies as he recognizes to be useful to his second nature, whereas his sixth sense would have shown the sympathies necessary to his first or real nature. Henceforward his life lies among rocks and shallows in proportion to the distance his habit carries him from his real nature. It follows from this that youth sees its real course better than manhood, and if the sympathies of youth are encouraged and matured for service in the world, there would then not only be developed wisdom but natural life, and the world would be better served than it is. With acquired second nature life is unreal, chartless, mysterious, dark, and very often not worth living. The whole evil depends on habit or the second nature, which is of every man's own adoption. Generating the sympathies of the child will not keep a man childish. The wisdom of man makes a man foolish, whereas the wisdom of Nature keeps him a man. By his free will force he can make himself either a man or a fool.
It is very hard that an honest man should be born in prison. Unhealthy children owe little thanks to their parents who foresaw the certainty of their misery. Ten thousand analogies of being forced into unfavorable circumstances might be cited, but altogether they could not equal this forced circumstance of human habit that is so subtilely, and apparently naturally, necessarily thrust upon man, and that has nothing but the mythical consolations that "man was made to mourn,â€ and "that all life is a mystery.â€ It is extraordinary, yea, incredible, that thinking men should so long have been satisfied with these dogmatic myths.
The natural views of youth about truth, before they are tarnished with the world's accepted beliefs, are more correct than those of maturer minds when biased by scholastic training. Is a young man then the best teacher and expounder of truth? It ought to be so; but it is only in exceptional cases that it is so. A man of mature years and experience who clings to the teachings of Nature ought to be the best teacher; but this philosophy contends that a mere experienced scholar is influenced by his scholastic experience a most excellant thing in itself - whereas youth has not been overcome by it. Examine the teaching from the pulpits. The contagious or infectious enthusiasm of youth is far more powerful in creating or generating sympathy in the human breast than the teaching of the aged divine, whose earnest and deep scholarship is only admired by people of mental calibre. All divines who have established a fame for themselves as sympathetic preachers have been young men of no extrordinary intellectual ability, and their success has been because they have taught the dictates of reasonable Nature, not the wisdom of the schools. Man of learning are admired: men of sympathy are loved, and beget love. Everything taught in the Bible suggests sympathy:- sympathy, not learning, and no man is fit for an expounder of the Bible who is not filled with sympathy for the human race. Young preachers, as a rule, try to show they are clever, not that they are sympathetic. Subjects that only old experienced heads should tackle they are eager to make doubly confusing by futile efforts of elaboration to elucidate. They seem to think it their duty to be everlastingly hammering on the pulpit anvil dogmas that they do not understand, while souls that are yearning for sympathy, the mystic motive power of life, freeze while they rant. They can do it well enough without the interference of striplings, whose wisdom would best grow with, say, two years of nothing but parochial work.
It is an undoubted truth that there are men of excellant ability amongst Dissenters; but it is a glaring fact that ministers, who are dependent on their flock for their salaries, dare not speak the truth when it is offensive, and truth is very often offensive. Such divines must speak to please those who pay them. They are like the modern Radical member of Parliament who must be a literal representative of his constituents and pocket his own opinion, if he be man enough to have one.
The greatest detriment of the times to the advancement of enlightenment is the misusage of the press, to describe which would take a large volume itself. Liberty ought not to be synonymous with licence. There can be nothing but praise for the conduct of a few independent papers; but, besides the penny scurrilities and halfpenny contemptibles, the name is legion of those that are a disgrace to an enlightened age and to a free and well-meaning people. Parents who admit them to their homes ought to be horsewhipped and ostracised from civilization.
The grocer sells groceries because there is a demand for them; for the same reason the wine-seller sells wine, the butcher beef; so with all trades and professions; so the scholastic teacher teaches what the times or the laws demand. This scholastic demand is not for developed thinking powers of the highest order, but for the cultivation of all such qualities as are useful for the acquirement of money. The demand is not to elevate and enlighten, but to gratify the five senses, to the utter neglect of the sixth. Modern education is not for the ennobling of the mind and the increase of true natural happiness, but for the aggrandisement of wealth and the concomitant luxuries of life. The highest and the truest aims are neglected, and the groveling desires are gratified. It is an enlightenment that brings discontent, and not sympathy which consoles and elevates.
The special cry of civilization is for liberty, and this presupposes a knowledge of thraldom. Where lies this thraldom? Nations demand deliverance from foreign oppressing influences: the people cry for political deliverance; the workman seeks freedom of labor and equality in life; enlightenment cries for freedom of speech; the soul cries for deliverance from darkness, morality from chains, and virtue from oppression. But political gratification of the cry does not bring surcease to the demand. Philosophy, philanthropy, and statesmanship may do what they may, yet poor humanity still remains in chains. Something is very far amiss and yet there is really no mystery. The cause is simply that man will not understand and believe in the grand laws of Nature, and especially in the law of sympathy and its generation. It is as powerful, unerring, and unyielding as the law of gravity. If a man at the top of an erect ladder lets go his hold he will, by the law of gravity, fall. A passenger in an express train suddenly stopped will, by the law of inertia, continue at his acquired velocity against the partition of his carriage; if he lie under water he will drown; if he put his finger into the fire it will burn; and so, if he use his will force to generate antipathetic sympathies, he will bewilder himself with grief. It is the law. By antipathetic generations he binds himself with characteristic chains, and walks deliberately into darkness. He must submit to his own character, but he has first the making of it in his own power. He himself destroys freedom by disregarding the law of Nature. Let him obey the law and he will, indeed, be free. The lawbreaker must take the consequence; ignorance is no plea. Nature allows for no extenuating circumstances, but punishes all and sundry. The law of sympathy is a fixed law and must operate; it has no loopholes like the law of man. Mankind cannot attain true liberty, by any invention whatever, in the face of the law, although obedience in part may give liberty in part. Never will liberation to humanity come until it obeys the law of sympathy, and, when that law is universally obeyed, and not till then, will the true brotherhood of the race attain that high position on earth which the sons of God ought to occupy.
Every human life, once begotten, must exist in this universal ether, and must, therefore, be influenced, to some degree, by the will force of the Deity in sympathy. It is the fate of life that it should so exist, just as it is the fate of the fish that it must live in water. In this respect there is no possibility of evading fate, and if the will force of the Deity alone created sympathy, the motive power of life, man could have no power of ordering his own life; but by his own will force he can create sympathy that will coincide with or oppose the sympathies of Nature or the Deity, and so he can control his own condition in life. Thus, there is no fate which man does not create and control.
A man is known by the company he keeps. What his company is that is he. Is it strange that the children of blacks should be black? Is it a wonderful peculiarity that children should inherit the national characteristics of the country in which they are born and bred, or that they should resemble their parents? Is it amazing that it is ill to take out of the flesh what is bred in the bone? Is it at all surprising that children should grow up to be of the same religion as their parents, who have daily instilled into them the religion they hold dear? Is it strange that youth should adopt parental politics? Mahommedan children become Mahommedan men, Buddist children become Buddist men, and Christian children become Christian men. Is this surprising? Is it not more surprising that anyone should consider it surprising? Man is as easily led as a sheep; his leaders are his priests, his teachers, his church, and his national government. Besides these four, he has himself, but he prefers the four to the one. Why? He is led astray at a very early stage. As a youth, his parents teach him the only fulcrum on which he can place a lever that has any power in the world is money. With that fulcrum and a long enough lever he can command the world; so he is taught. He is told that no door is closed in the face of wealth which is open sesame of all arcana. Society, power, and position kneel before it; comfort, luxury, and enjoyment are at its orders. Without it nothing can be done. A poor man with great ability languishes in chains while the rich fool sits in fashion's throne. The children are practically shown that, of all things, they must get money, and for this end they are trained at home and trained at school. The most valuable education is thus the one that can best be used in the production of cash. If the schoolmaster's brains do no supply such capital to the world's apprentice he may close his school. The master for the age is the one who can persuade, truly or untruly, the parent that his academy facile princeps turns out the best money-makers. According to the law of supply and demand the teacher must supply what parents demand, and that is the development of such faculties or senses as are most likely to produce money. Thus money-making doctrines are the theses of the scholastic curriculum, and at every stage of a man's life proofs of the necessity for possessing money are evident until he is virtually forced to the conclusion that it is the summum bonum of human life. This at once brings him in conflict with religion, which condemns money, although Christ himself never condemned riches, but the love of riches, and even copybook morality declares that the love of money is the root of all evil. By nature man's inner life is fondly attached to this world, and so a triangular war immediately begins a campaign that never seems to end, between his life, his religion, and his education. Agreement between them is, with present beliefs, an impossibility. Naturally the aim of these three ought to be the same, viz., duty, yet each, opposing the other, does not sympathetically, as it ought to, aim at the same duty.
The terrestrial cry of human hearts is for sympathy. As the hart panteth for water brooks, so longs the soul for sympathy. High and low, rich and poor, young and old crave for it; not because they know it is the mystic motive power of life but because their natures hunger for it. The poorest beggar on the street asks the rich man's coin, but at heart he appreciates his sympathetic smile far more. All the pampering of wealth is not to be weighed against one touch of sympathy. The haughtiest man in the world is pleased when even a dog kindly wags his tail to him. A flower cannot live without heat, neither is life possible without sympathy. To place poverty in a workhouse without giving sympathy is simply to kennel-up some humanity out of the rest of humanity's way. Take the sun from the world, but leave sympathy. Take money from the world, but leave sympathy. Take hearing from the ears and seeing from the eyes, but leave sympathy. Any deprivation in life is endurable except sympathy; without it life is an impossibility. Despair itself will rise up and sing at its touch. It gives an impetus to the wings of love sufficient to carry it to the windows of heaven. It is balm to the disheartened, ambrosia to the ambitious, and a bond of brotherhood to all. Who has not felt its subtle touch? What a weary, dreary, lonely state life is when its sympathetic vibrations are feeble as the pulsations of a dying man; well then might a human being cry in cruel agony, â€œMy God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" How easy it is to generate it. A gentle touch of the hand, a benign smile, a look, or an encouraging word, and the vibration acts from heart to heart. It costs no effort, no sacrifice; silver and gold are not necessary. As sure as a stone thrown in the air will fall to the ground, so surely can will force beget sympathy and communicate itself to others - only it must be genuine. Nature permits no shams, no simulations. Feigned virtue is no virtue, and a simulation of sympathy is a mockery and a crime that the Author of sympathy will punish.
Build up your asylums, public charities, gaols, refuges, and reformatories, or self-deceiving charity buyers of absolution, and you are self-deceivers still, even if you give tithes of all you possess to support them; but ye man who wish to show your fellow creatures that you are in direct touch with the Almighty source of the mystic motive power of life, add to your perishable gifts the imperishable free gift of sympathy, and so prove this is a happy and glorious world, which I for one love almost to adoration, for it is full of enjoyment, beauty, love, and is well worth loving.
Vera Vita the Philosophy of Sympathy part 1 of 2