Índice Geral das Seções Índice da Seção Atual Índice da Obra Atual Anterior: VI - A Nova Era Seguinte: Vlll - Apêndice
THE Age, or System, whose doom is thus declared, being what it is – at once agnostic, atheistic, pessimistic, and materialistic; an age that makes the body and form all, and the spirit and reality nothing; and an age, therefore, “wholly given to idolatry,” – it remains to consider, first, of what nature must be the event that will constitute its death-blow, and so ensure its termination, and at the same time replace it by a successor of the kind predicted; and secondly, how far the system recovered fulfils the conditions requisite to accomplish such results. This is to say – positing materialism as the Apocalyptic dragon, how far does the doctrine of The Perfect Way enact towards it the part of the destroying St. Michael, and thus accomplish the prophecies?
In order to destroy materialism, it is necessary to demolish the materialistic hypothesis, by demonstrating its falsehood. What then, it must be asked, is it precisely
would constitute such a demonstration? Obviously, a positive proof of the spiritual nature of existence. (1) What is essential to such a proof? Obviously a demonstration either of the being of God, or of the reality and immortality of the soul.
But here the question arises – even supposing God and the soul to be; is the fact susceptible of demonstration? The reply to this question can be rendered only by the aid of particular knowledge, and it is as follows: – The demonstration of the being both of God and of the soul is possible; but that of the former only through the latter. This is to say, – while the being and immortality of the soul can be demonstrated to the mind directly, the being of God can be demonstrated only mediately through the soul; since God is cognisable only in and by the soul. From which it arises that while the knowledge of God is, by its nature, particular and of the individual, the knowledge of the soul is capable of demonstration to all.
There are quarters in which it is claimed and confidently believed that the soul’s existence and immortality have already, in recent years, and for millions of persons, been amply demonstrated by the phenomena of “Spiritualism.”
This belief, however, is based on an error. “Spiritualism,” it is true, is a movement having a basis in reality; and a movement, too, of which the importance to, and influence upon, the thought, science, and religion of the future can hardly be exaggerated. Indeed, as a preliminary to the discomfiture of materialism, especially in its grosser manifestations, “spiritualism” was indispensable. For it was necessary, first of all, to restore the vanished belief in the existence and accessibility of an order of beings at once immaterial, personal, intelligent, and impalpable to the ordinary senses. But such restoration of belief, or rather, of knowledge, is preliminary only, and introductory to that true spirituality which involves the knowledge of God and the soul, and of the relations of one to the other. This latter knowledge is as the firm land to reach which the sea of the former must be crossed; or as the final Land of Promise, to reach which the wilderness must be painfully traversed.
Now, the limitations of “spiritualism” are manifold. And they consist in the fact, first, that the apparition of departed persons is, in reality, not a manifestation of the true soul of such persons, but only of that which, being intermediate between the body and the soul, is neither body nor soul, but partakes in a measure of
the nature of both. It is, thus, a phantom, capable, indeed, of surviving the body and of manifesting certain characteristics of the person to whom it has belonged; but it neither is that person in his true essence, nor is it necessarily still in connection with that person, inasmuch as the phantom is no more capable than the body of permanently retaining the soul within it. And even when it does retain the soul, it is only because the soul is too weak, or too heavily weighted by materiality, to be able to quit it. It may, nevertheless, in cases special and rare, act as a medium of communication between a living person and a departed soul. Besides, not only are the dead frequently personated by phantoms other than their own; but they are frequently personated by magnetic apparitions which emanate from the living, to whom they appear and act as real and separate personalities.
Secondly, no appearance after death can prove more than that there is something which survives the body for a time. Students of “occultism,” familiar with such phenomena, and who for the most part believe that they represent all that survives the body, are generally agreed that they do so but for a limited period, and that with them the individual perishes altogether.
Thirdly, and lastly: “spiritualism” fails entirely, and
necessarily from the nature of the case, (1) to afford positive or scientific knowledge concerning the higher objects of spiritual cognition, such as the nature of God and the soul, and the origin and destiny of man. Representing only intercourse held with “spirits” extraneous to himself, and by reason of their condition bound to the lower spheres only of the supersensuous world, “spiritualism” can, at its best but reflect and magnify that which is already in those lower spheres, and can in no wise yield the fruits of the spheres celestial. For “the kingdom of heaven is within,” and “from without cometh no Divine revelation.” A man does not know a thing because he is told it; he must see it for himself. Hence, “the Spirit that informeth is the Spirit of the prophet himself.” This is a truth which the “spiritualist” has yet to recognise; and one which he cannot find until he has transcended his present method.
Such being the case, it is evident that something else than the experiences of the occultist and the spiritualist is necessary to demonstrate the being of a permanent and divine Ego, whether in the universe or in man; and thereby to supply that perfect system of thought and rule of life for lack of which the world is perishing, – the system which alone will enable man to make of himself the best that he
has it in him to be, and, so, to turn his existence to the best possible account.
That which is necessary to the demonstration required, is a proof of identity and continuity in regard to the soul, similar to that which is afforded by the body. This is to say that in order for us to have assurance of the persistence of the soul through all changes of form and condition, it is necessary to recover its recollections of its own remote past. It is only by means of our bodily memory that we know we have lived before the present moment. And it is only by means of our spiritual memory that we can know that our souls have lived before our present lives, and may therefore look with confidence to a continued life after the death of the body. If, in support of its claim to have thus pre-existed, a soul shows itself to be possessed of knowledges unattainable otherwise than through such recollection, the demonstration required is afforded, and the problem is satisfactorily solved.
The notion that the soul of any person has pre-existed his present body as a conscient entity; that it has already lived many lives, animating and informing many different personalities on the earth or elsewhere; that it is possible while yet in the body to recall and communicate the recollections of its remotest experiences, and so to live
as to become in high degree accessible to information from such a source, – all these are ideas which, to a generation so over-materialised as to deny the existence of any soul at all, are necessarily strange and even grotesque. But they were, nevertheless, not only familiar to the pre-Christian world, but implicitly accepted by it as the basis of all its great religio-philosophical systems, and even formed a component part of the original Christianity, as shown alike by the Bible and by numerous historical evidences. (1)
It is, moreover, the sole adequate explanation ever offered of such familiar phenomena of our own daily experience, as the differences of form, character, faculty, and condition subsisting between a children of the same parents, identically bred, reared, and educated; and the existence in us of preferences and sentiments due manifestly to pre-natal tendencies. It, is moreover, the only hypothesis which vindicates the Divine justice in regard to the inequalities of human condition.
The positive re-assertion in The Perfect Way of the doctrine of the persistence and progression of the soul, and of the possibility of recovering while still in the body our recollections of the past, does not, however, rest exclusively
upon a conviction of its fitness or probability, or upon statements regarded as authoritative. It has the confirmation of living, personal experiences, occurring over many years, and so manifold, distinct, and in every respect decisive, as to exclude absolutely any other explanation; precisely as the recollection a person may possess of any occurrence in his present life, forbids him to ascribe his impressions of it to a cause other than that of his own actual experience.
It is not, however, intended herein to assert that the recollections of the soul relate to the accidentals and circumstantials of the physical plane. The memory of the soul is, of course, the memory of essentials, and displays itself in a knowledge of principles, while that of the “earthly” mind, renewed at each birth, concerns itself with events and accessories.
Both history and present experience show that the method by which spiritual or essential things are opened to us is, commonly, hieroglyphic, or pictorial. Such is, pre-eminently the method of the Bible, and of all high poetry – as the immediate product of the intuitional of inspirational faculty – because these are specially addressed to and concerned with the soul, which, being the seer of the human kingdom, apprehends truth by means, not of argument, but of vision.
Thus it is not merely by the suggestion, abnormally vivid, of ideas, that the man who comes into intimate relations with his soul is instructed; but in pictures actually beheld, and in words actually heard or read, by the interior sense, involving, ofttimes, vivid presentations of scenes and personages in spiritual affinity with the essentials or principles concerned.
And, inasmuch as the source of such knowledge is not the intellect or bodily sense, nor any extraneous wayfaring spirit, but the very own spirit of the man himself, and its perceptions and recollections at once of the ways of the soul in the world, and of God in the soul; and as this, too, is not unfrequently imparted in sleep, the recipient can appreciate as can no other the significance of the expression in Scripture, in its true reading, “He giveth to His beloved in sleep.”
And this knowledge also is his: that though by the world around him ignored, or derided as a visionary, a mystic, or even as a madman, he alone is whole-minded, inasmuch as he alone to intellect adds intuition; and can claim to represent humanity in its integrity, inasmuch as he alone to the “man” adds the “woman,” in that he has the consciousness that is of the soul as well as that which is of the mind. And knowing this of himself, he can smile at the gibes
of his detractors as at the freaks of rudimentaries, and wait patiently their time of maturity, when his present stand-point shall be theirs also. (1)
He alone, too, as he well knows, can fairly claim in their true sense those noblest of human titles, Experimental Philosopher, Free-Thinker, Free-Liver. For, in his quest of perfection alike in Knowing, Doing, and Being, he has not shrunk from painful experimentation upon the sole legitimate subject of such experimentation, his own self. Nor has he, like those who usurp the name of Free-thinker, restricted his thoughts to a single direction, and that the outward, which leads but to matter and negation; but has impelled it freely in all directions, inwardly as well as outwardly, from circumference to centre, from appearance to reality, from matter to spirit, from Nature to God.
Nor has he, again, – like those who, boasting themselves free-livers, have been the veriest slaves to custom and bodily appetite – suffered aught to withdraw him from the perfect ideal he has set before him; but has manfully endured to the end, until, wholly lifted up above the earth, his ideal has drawn him up after it, enabling him to prove in his own person that of the Perfect Way thus followed the end is the Finding of Christ within himself, – thus finding whom he
is content, for he knows, as does no other, how supremely well is life worth living.
A “positive philosopher,” he affirms, only on the strength of his own experience, – experience, too, not limited to a single brief life, or a single sphere of existence, and this the outermost and lowest; but gathered over an illimitable range of years, and in every sphere of man’s manifold nature, from the outermost and lowest to the innermost and highest.
And with all this he claims but to be a follower of Common Sense. But not as the world defines it. For the world takes the form for the man, and – ignoring the qualities – calls that common sense which represents those who are men in form only. For him, on the contrary, that is not common sense which represents the agreement of the generality. Seeing in men and women at large, no realised humanity, but only humanity in the making or marring, he seeks beyond these for the common sense of humanity. And he finds it in the consensus, not of mere men, but of all parts of man; in the agreement, that is, of body, mind, soul and spirit, of all of which he has developed the consciousness in himself, becoming thereby a whole man, and representative of the whole humanity, and competent, therefore, to speak with the certitude that comes alone of an all-comprehending experience.
They, who denying his conclusions, gainsay him, do
thereby but exhibit themselves as the followers of an experimental “science, falsely so-called,” inasmuch as in their denials they affirm positively on the strength of their non- experience. So that, were he to heed them and renounce his belief in the reality of the spiritual world, on the ground that it transcends their powers of observation, and finds no explanation from their hypothesis of existence, – he would have no plea left whereon to believe in the reality of the material world, the evidence to him for the former being in no degree inferior to that for the latter.
Such is the “Mystic,” or seer and revelator of things hidden from the outer sense, the writer of Bibles and interpreter of religions. But so far from regarding the world to which he has access as supernatural in the ordinary sense, or the revelation of it as requiring a supernatural faculty, he enlarges his definition of Nature until it includes all that is, and insists that “revelation,” no less than reason, is a natural appanage of man, and that its function is to reveal to man his own best, even his innermost and spiritual self, his essential and divine spirit. And not only does The Perfect Way maintain this doctrine of the essential divinity of man, it also defines clearly the path by following which each man may obtain positive demonstration of it for himself; and
shows it to be, in very truth, no other than that which is expressed in its own title.
* * * * *
Enough, it is hoped, has now been said to show that the “world” did indeed, as foretold, “come to an end in 1881;” that the predicted new era then began; and that in the promulgation of the system contained in The Perfect Way, especially, if not solely, the prophecies have found their due accomplishment. (1) For, to enumerate a few only of the grounds of the claim made for the book in question, it affords to minds duly instructed and percipient, a complete demonstration, altogether unique, of the spiritual nature of existence, and of the reality and persistence of the soul. It rehabilitates the character, alike of God and of man, by vindicating them from the evil presentments given of them by sacerdotalists and scientists. Alike it “utterly abolishes the idols” of the churches and the pleas of scoffers, by restoring the Spirit to the Letter of Scripture. It formulates the doctrine announced as that whereby the new era would be characterised. It solves simply and effectually the profoundest problems, historical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, to the full reconciliation of religion and science. And, finally, it appears at precisely
the juncture both of time and of conditions, indicated as that of the period of an event which should inaugurate precisely such a change in the world’s system and thought as The Perfect Way is calculated to bring about.
And, added to this, it is no new gospel that is propounded, nor is there required for its expression the adoption of a new vocabulary. The old terms, the old forms, the old symbols – all are preserved: only their original and true meaning is restored, purged of the grossness in which they have so long been imbedded, and retranslated to their proper sphere of a pure spirituality.
In order fully to test the validity of the claim thus advanced, it is, of course, necessary to study with candid mind the work itself; to analyse intelligently the prophecies and the times concerned; and, above all, to ascertain at first hand the nature itself of existence. Its writers – who refrain from styling themselves its authors – are absolutely assured through their own experience that Religion is, as they have described it, the science of Eternal Verities, and independent, therefore, of historical or physical events and persons, yet having, nevertheless, its basis and crown in humanity; and also, that its confirmations, so far from consisting in external evidence, are accessible to each individual, according to the degree of his own interior
unfoldment. They, have, therefore, the strongest reasons for believing that the more its readers know concerning the processes of their own souls and the nature at large of existence, the more they will discern of truth in its pages, and be enabled to recognise as its only possible source – no merely human intelligence – but that self-same Divine “Spirit of Truth,” of whom the great Hierarch, and Exemplar in his own person, of the Christian Mysteries, declares to his followers that when He is come He will guide them into all truth.
(64:1) Using the term existence, as hitherto, in its conventional sense, and not in its special sense as distinguished from Being.
(67:1) See The Perfect Way, Lecture III, Part 2.
(69:1) As see The Perfect Way, Lecture I, Part 1, 39, 40.
(72:1) See Appendix, Note 5.
(75:1) See Appendix, Note 6.