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Studies in the thought world : or, Practical mind art online

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unseen but real self, rather than the wayside inns
along the road, in which he has been temporarily
sheltered. The promise and potency of coining per-
fected spiritual man was assured from the begin-
ning of the involution of divine energy into the
lowest elemental conditions. The protoplasmic quick-
ening that lies at the foundation of all things stands
for and is a definite prophecy. of man as finally
complete in God's image. Thi rit of God, mov-

ing upon and involving itself rimal conditions,

is the eternal conception and i bion which will
continue until archetypal man >e born into full


What interminable struggles and efforts, and evo-
lutions upon evolutions, all working for " one divine
event to which the whole creation moves " ! Based
upon the prodigality of expenditure, what infinite
value must be placed upon man, always bearing in
mind that he is soul, and not body !

How such a comprehensive view puts us in uni-
versal touch and fellowship with all forms of life !
Everything is not only our friend, but our consan-
guineal relative. Each has been a kind of abiding-
place along the great highway over which we have

What a leap upwards was that from the inorganic


to the organic ! But the same omnipresent divine
life binds the rock into form that thrills through
the soul of an archangel. Mollusk, fish, reptile, and
mammal — these grand subdivisions, each again many
times subdivided, all these, form the rounds of the
ladder upon which we have been climbing.

The tremendous ascent is a many-graded school,
and the supreme lessons to be acquired are self-
conscious individuality, and a developed recognition
of oneness with our source.

The psychic nature of man was potentially present
in the very clods o: bL< valley. Every lesser grade
of life made its sn contribution, and passed it

along to the next ier. All in turn have been

melted in that vita . ible whose contents is being

cast into man.

The road to a spiritual self -consciousness has been
hewn through a great forest of expressive forms, each
of which has been pushed aside for its more able suc-
cessor. The clod becomes a vegetable, the vegetable
an animal, the animal a man, the man a self-conscious
spirit, and the spirit a god. We must ever bear in
mind that all this progress is in positive quality of
life, and that each of the rising forms is only its out-
ward symbol. It is like a banner which shows the
rank of the force which is marching behind it.

All the motives, mysteries, riddles, and potentiali-
ties of the universe find their solution and focalized
climax in man. The world is, because he is. He is


its reason and explanation. All things are concerned
in his coming and becoming. Humanity is the uni-
versal goal, toward which, from all directions, there
is a supreme effort. From the primal cell upward,
everything has this tendency, aim, and transcendent
purpose. Man is eternally begotten by the one
Omnipresent Life, and is forever being born. The
fingers of God, who is Spirit, are all through the
cosmos, shaping the life or mind of every atom and
molecule, and impressing upon it its grand destiny.

Our family kindred reside on every terrace that
is stretched between the amoeba and Shakespeare,
the reptile and Emerson. Each atom and molecule
has magnetic polarity, and its polar star is humanity.
The tree is coming man not yet loosened from the
ground, and the fossil long ago passed on his best
contribution and is resting a while. The evolution-
ary vesture is a robe, woven without seam, from
bottom to top, from protoplasm to seraph.

Man is not only poetically, but scientifically, a
microcosm. In the profound deeps of his being, in
orderly arrangement, are sun, moon, fixed stars,
comets, mountains and valleys, trees and flowers,
quadrupeds and birds, with all variations and pos-
sibilities, terrestrial and celestial. Man is in the
universe, and the universe is in him.

The memories and traces of our brutehood still
linger with us, and all our friction comes because we
lose- our equilibrium by lagging behind the normal


onward trend. Any man who loses his soul is the
man who has not found it. The great command
which rings down through the ages is, " Forward ! "
and our failure to fall into line is responsible for
all abnormity,

As suns, with their worlds and satellites, float ini
the free and fluid ether, so all sensuous matter rests)
upon its spiritual base. Mind slumbers in the peb-j
ble, dreams in the plant, gathers energy in the
animal, and awakens to self-conscious discovery in
the soul of man. The psyche of the lower form,
involved from the One Life and Mind, for the great
purpose of education . ough evolution, at length
learns its great lessen, a d takes its degree. Adam
could name all i mals out of his own past

qualitative experit^ Evolution may, therefore,

simply be defined as experimental education.

An endless caravan is travelling on the "King's
highway," and each section is laboriously toiling up
the gradual, spiral ascent. But from the deceptive
materialistic standpoint many things seem to fall
away, and drop out of the procession. Forms dis-
solve, shapes disappear, things are said to die, buds
and leaves and blossoms wither and fade ; but the
unseen life, which for a while held them in form,
resumes its march in yet sweeter and more noble
configurations. Conservation is the universal law,
therefore nothing real can be lost.

The animal psyche is tethered to a little circle


of instincts ; but the human soul, although on the
present plane connected with expressive materiality,
mounts aloft and abroad in ever-increasing range.
Not until the ever-expanding psyche has reached
the human estate can it turn around and look
inward upon itself, and discover the engraved pat-
tern of divinity.

To bring human expression up to the full normal
standard requires innumerable eons of frictions,
polishings, and experiences. All lower conforma-
tions are but a stammering prophecy of the becoming
ideal. There is a re-birth in every death, so that the
conventional demise of one order is far more exactly
the advent of the next.

Man is to be the personal expresser of the one
Creative Spirit; so that purposeful evolution is a
multiplying of self-conscious, divine personalities.
The upward spiral stretches from infinite involution
to infinite evolution. The God-energy stores itself
in the humblest forms ; and as the oak is potential in
the acorn, so man is wrapped up in every one of them.
The process of ripening is orderly on all planes.

When man discovers that God is in his being, he
feels an impulse to give him manifested expression.
Life is a great gulf-stream, sweeping away from
divinity, and bearing everything on its bosom, but
only to finally float all back in perfected form to
their primal source. During this great cycle, indi-
viduation and voluntary God-likeness are developed.


All creation is through thought, or, more exactly,
each thought is a creation. Looking back upon
the great cosmic economy, at first sight it seems
blended, confused, and even chaotic. Evolution takes
this seeming complex entanglement in hand, and
through an orderly discipline erects its eternal mas-
terpiece, — > completed man. But this purposeful out-
line and ideal is not yet rilled out. Man always
lived, and moved, and had his being in God, but must
needs be created in low form, or distanced from the
Deity in consciousness, in r hat he might dis-

cover his true rank, tn _ process of working

his way back. T 1 ^ he has never been away

from the " Fatl ?. " except through his

dream in sensuou.. i " ] embodiment.

" The Word became flesh b flesh might

finally become " The Word."

Having thus briefly traced the outlines of the
great evolutionary cycle, let us turn for a little
to consider a few of the laws or methods through
which we may accelerate the process of our own
unfoldment. On all the inferior planes, progress
comes from a pushing from behind, and is accom-
panied by friction. Lessons are difficult, acquire-
ment slow, and seeming mal-adjustments many.
The wheels of progress groan and creak upon their
axles, often hardly moving, or even appearing to
move backwards.

But when the plateau of spiritual understanding


is finally reached, man, . through the knowledge of
law, begins to aid powerfully in his own advance-
ment. He learns the uses of ideals, and places them
in front, where, like great magnets, they draw him
onward. He finds the highway smoothed and made
easy before him, and glides along without the jarring
and grinding of his former movement. He becomes
a conscious creator, which only means that the divin-
ity within him has come to self-recognition. Uncon-
scious creation is always slow and labored. Tt grinds
its way among obstacles, as a glacier presses forward
into a valley, crowded by the huge mass from be-
hind. This continual friction in the human econ-
omy results from ignorance of law, and its fruits
are dis-order, dis-ease, mal-adju otment, arrested de-
velopment, decay, and premature material disem-

We have spoken of matter as mere passive mate-
rial which is grasped by various grades of life for
formal expression. We have also said that there
was no dead material, and that everyUiing possesses
some quality of life. How can this seeming incon-
sistency be reconciled ? Live material is sufficiently
passive for all purposes of utilization. All life is
positive in degree ; but it is law that, of whatever
grade it may be, it moulds and uses those forms
which are less positive than itself. Therefore man's
physical organism is composed of myriads of inferior
organisms, and his mind of an aggregation of the


subordinate mentality of the past. We have not
only left behind us on the evolutionary highway all
the lower and simpler qualities of existence, but we
also have brought them with us, and have them
in us.

Man cannot go out beyond himself, for the uni-
verse is contained within the circumference of his
being. In him potentially exist celestial harmonies
and hellish flames, heavenly ecstasies and demoniacal
orgies. He has the equipment t< y saint or sin-
ner, devil or angel.

We may now conside ^nnitely how man,

having arrived at f1 of the conscious posses-

sion of creati^ ;, lent in his own volition,

can supplement th<~ . i in perfecting his

own expression. He has ci point where

he understands himself, because he observes the
forces that evolution has employed in bringing him
up to his present altitude. What may be called the
law of uses is a vital principle, and its scope is uni-
versal. /if we neglect to exercise any talent, power,
or quality, it soon falls away from us. Nature, in
the widest sense, always casts away all her useless
material. She refuses to nourish all drones, until
they finally die from inanition. If, however, we
wish to eliminate the brutish forces that still lurk
within us, w r e need not destroy their energy, but
turn it into a higher channel. In every past step
of biological progress, organs which have -served


their purpose drop away ; but it must not be for-
gotten that they are always supplanted by a more
worthy successor. But the legitimate use of a talent
actually feeds it.

The eternal climb through the ages has come from
an ever-present inherent craving, not only for more,
but for higher and better and richer. Demand
always brings supply, and it is entirely_ade^uatg»_
Potentiality is limitless ; and it invites you to help
yourself, and take what you want. But if our wants
are not centred n^on that which is superior to pres-
ent attainment, their supply only puts us back, to
again learn a lesson more (Je&^lj than before, which
really belongs to the past. There is a universal
desire for happiness ; and happiness means harmony,
or rather harmonious development.

If an arm be not used, it at length becomes par-
alyzed; but the lack of use is more deeply located
than might at first appear. It is in the neglect of
the thought, or a disuse of the will-power, which
moves the arm. The paralysis is, therefore, really
in the mind, or in its lack of self-assertion. The arm
has only expressed the condition that is back of it.

All advancement is in intelligent, qualitative
thought ; and visible progress of form is such thought,
in uses poured through embodiment. It is only
mind-art that produces material, artistic expression.
The outer form is necessary on its own plane, but the
inner and immaterial entity must insist upon a faith-


ful correspondence. The body, therefore, must not
be denied, but affirmed. Denial of it is suicidal.
The degree of perfection in embodiment corresponds
to the positiveness of the life, mind, and spirit which
permeate it. All flesh is malleable stuff, and belief
shapes it to its own specifications. Belief should,
therefore, be enlarged, enriched and perfected. Its
precise view of objective things is of secondary im-
portance,, but its estimate of itself is of transcendent
import. The mind is a self-begetting and self-creat-
ing unitary force. It is always drawing its own
proportions, and taking its own photograph. To
exercise a true mind-art in securing harmony of
outline is the divinest employment of the law of

Thought-energy is the primal and universal force,
and executive will is the king of all motors. It
rallies all less positive forms of life into conformity,,
and quickens every normal function into wholesome

The upward ascent of man gives him an ever-
increasing breadth of outlook. Like some bold Alpine
climber, he rises above the lowland fogs and mists
into the clear azure ; and at length the lesser peaks
which he has left behind, and which before seemed
formidable, melt into insignificance. Day by day
the mysteries of nature are resolved, and the murky
medium into which he has been vainly peering •
becomes transparent, The subtle mechanism of the


universe is laid bare, and the fine links which con-
nect it with mind are felt and interpreted. Unfold-
ment being a universal law, the upward mental and
spiritual climb of man is immutably guaranteed.

One of the present great distinctive features of the
evolutionary rise is, that racial solidarity is coming
to the surface of human consciousness. Mankind is
like a great tree, the branches and leaves of which —
all springing from one root, and nourished by the
same sap — spread themselves forth that they may
feel the glow of the sunlight.

While there is but One Life, it appears broken
into a vast number of disjointed fragments, but
without any loss of individual responsibility; each
belongs to the race, which, as a whole, would be
incomplete without him. Every one seems, to him-
self, finited and separate ; but in reality each life is
like a bit of color in one great mosaic design.

The coming ideal is universal brotherhood. This
will not be attained by any external panacea, or legis-
lative expedient, but by a fusing and unifying of
heart and desire.

One may think that he thinks for himself, but
more exactly he is borne along by great thought-cur-
rents in which he is immersed. He is not much
more independent of his fellows than is a piece of
driftwood of its surroundings in the rapids of a
mighty river.

It is true that the great thought movements have


their individual articulators, who seem to be lead-
ers ; but they are really the visible signs of some gen-
eral trend. They are not commanders, but focalized
embodiments of forces which are back of them.

The great sea of human mentality rises and falls,
ebbs and flows, in huge tides, and not in detached
drops. A perfect network of invisible ties binds
men into a great solidarity. The thunder of the
rhythmic march of the great mass drowns the light
footfalls of the few who would mark an independent

Does this in any degree discourage individual
advancement? Rather the reverse; for, in a deep
sense, every man is the race. The very foremost
pioneer, in his progress toward the human ideal,
represents a universal possibility and coming goal.
We are thinking, willing, loving, and doing, not
merely, or even mainly, for ourselves, but for man-
kind. Even the seeming hard law of " the survival
of the fittest,'' when fully interpreted, is found to be
beneficent; for the fittest are really channels and
models for the less fit. Every special individual
attainment not only brings up the general average,
but is a standing object-lesson and ideal. Service, as
a fundamental law, must reach down from the higher
to the lower. But, in the past, human personality
has been so earnestly engaged in working out its own
salvation, that it has overlooked its organic rela-


" Save your own soul " has been the reiterated in-
junction ; but the most ideal salvation is the mer-
ging of the own soul in devotion to the general soul.
There is not only a common divine incarnation, but,
in a very real sense, we live in each other.

We wrestle with "principalities and powers," and
that in the presence of a great cloud of interested
witnesses. The disciplinary and educational expe-
riences of one are those of all, and the victories of
each are a general inspiration. "No man liveth to
himself, and no man dieth to himself." The ever-
widening circles of a human divine consciousness, as
a thought-quality, go out in waves to refresh the
whole family of man.

Every human brother, as he pushes on in advance,
gives an upward impulse along the innumerable lines
which radiate from him as a centre. He is a saviour
who breaks captive's chains, opens prison-doors, and
proclaims freedom. The great evolutionary campaign
will not be ended until every member of the race has
been transformed into a " son of God."

When the basic law of race-solidarity is generally
perceived, it will be a privilege for the strong to
carry the burdens of the weak, until they finally dis-
appear. The race being an organism, its unity is
only rendered complete from the unlike office of its
various members.

Many of the conventions of our modern civiliza-
tion are the results of arrested development. We


wander from the great smooth, normal highway, into
the sednctive by-paths of cold intellectualism, mate-
rial formalism, superficial education, and of a real-
ism falsely called artistic. Artificial walls and
barriers are built up between souls, and the living
fountains of human love and sympathy are sealed or
frozen over. Society, through an unwritten and un-
spoken legislation, imposes arbitrary laws which are
based upon selfishness and worldly policy. Each
soul wears a polished armor, which, though unseen,
is as cold and impenetrable as steel. Only a thor-
ough recognition of the law of love and oneness can
ever melt it away. Human society still feels itself
to be a mass of disconnected units, having adverse
interests, and each still inquires, " Am I my brother's
keeper ? "

The law of ministry is not only an ethical obliga-
tion, but a scientific means of progress. If all were
just equally advanced in evolutionary unfoldment,
there would be little opportunity for mutual aid and
bestowment. Like the diverse members of an organ-
ism, each is necessary to the completeness of the
whole. But the crust of our worldly wise conven-
tions must be broken up before we can be free to
cling in graceful embrace to neighboring souls.

The higher life is not a mere, refinement of what
is lower, but an awakening — the glow of the divine
image within, which is restlessly waiting for free
expressive conformation.


But, as before indicated, all frictions, arrested
developments, and even mistaken by-paths, have
an edncational use. Many lessons, to be thoroughly
learned, have to be ground in by disciplinary expe-
riences. It seems unaccountable, but it is a fact,
that we generally refuse to learn them in any easier

But such correction, and even punishment, — if we
choose to call it so, — is really the teacher of racial
solidarity. Human relationship is so intimate and
reciprocal, that the lawful and innocent suffer with
and for those who are lawless and guilty. Vica-
rious experiences are not confined to one historic ex-
pression, but are universal. Such a commingling —
though having a superficial appearance of injustice —
breaks the boundary walls of the smaller or personal
interest, and by its educative revelations brings into
view the Larger Unit. The righteous man suffers
with the malefactor, and the latter finds succor in
the former ; and such is universal experience, and
such is law. What a paradox ! Has not Law made
a mistake ? No ; only our selfish concern makes hei
seem unreasonable.

If each suffered solely for his personal transgres-
sions, it might teach him prudence on his own ac-
count ; but now he finds that he helps to pay a
general penalty, and that his interest is woven into
the very warp and woof of the whole social fabric.
There is no other true and supreme interpretation of


law. The transcendent lesson to come into human
consciousness is, that the summum bonum of the
smaller unit can only come enclosed within that of
the greater. In the deepest analysis there are no
possible adverse interests. Those which seem so are
only superficial.

The Established Order is not only for and within
man, but it is man. No true social science, political
economy, ethical system, or coherent religion can be
formulated except upon the basis that man is One.
An individual soul might as easily be split in twain,
as for a part of the racial soul to be saved, and the
rest lost. The law of the conservation of soul-energy
is as exact and scientific as is its correspondence on
the lower plane. Only error and falsity are sloughed
off, while all that is true is indestructible. The su-
premest work of every man lies in his efforts towards
the unfoldment of the general soul in which he is

We are gradually approaching the Kingdom of the
Eeal, where all men will feel themselves to be one
because they are united in God. Humanity ulti-
mates in the Universal Soul, but without any loss
of individuality. There is to be an eternal welding
of Fatherhood, sonship, and brotherhood. When this
state of consciousness is reached, one universal heart-
throb will send the vital current of love and unity
coursing through the veins of the remotest member.



Man is mind. He is an unconscious artist, dwell-
ing in the midst of an endless variety of mental
pictures. His time is spent in photographing things
around him, and in taking impressions from his
thoughts and ideas. The great palaces of art, like
the Louvre of Paris and the Uffizi and Pitti of
Florence, contain a vast number of galleries and
corridors where pictures are hung, high and low ;
but mental art museums are incomparably more
extensive and varied. Finished productions from
the hand of the most gifted artist are crude and
clumsy of execution when compared with the expert
delineations of the imaging faculty of the mind —
or rather the man.

What a profusion of immaterial works of art, each
surrounded with a carved frame of accessories, each
with its high light and low light, sunshine and
shadow, and all without any sensuous limitations of
length, breadth, or space ! Thought is the artist ;
and it is ever executing real but intangible master-
pieces with marvellous facility, giving them all its
own peculiar tone and finish, and putting its initials
upon them. The ego is the owner, custodian, and


sole visitor of its galleries, and is always inspecting
its art treasures. These are arranged not only on
walls, but are packed away in drawers and com-
partments for prospective use and reference. But
in ttie twinkling of an eye they can be snatched
from their seclusion, placed upon an easel, and
lighted up with the sunshine of consciousness. New
and original designs for the gallery are constantly
being outlined, and filled in with color from the

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Online LibraryHenry WoodStudies in the thought world : or, Practical mind art → online text (page 2 of 15)