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

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gain strength to finally mount above and beyond
them. As to her teaching, says Wordsworth : — ■

"One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can."

The latest movements of science in prying into
Nature's deeper subtleties are a reproof to former
conventionalism and finished materialistic concepts.
A truer realism is coming to claim the spiritual
genesis of all normal types ; their spontaneity, per-
fection, and vital warmth. Art is becoming purified
of arbitrary conventions, and with a free and plastic
movement falling into the rhythm of divine har-
monies and patterns. When so inspired she is the
handmaid of spiritual development. Whether in
the groined arches and Gothic tree-like forms which
are materialized in grand cathedrals, or in the ideal
of the sculptor, which, like Galatea, is ready to burst
into life, or on glowing canvas instinct with stories
of living reality, art is the visible moulder of ideal-
ism and the revealer of faith.

The human imagination, freed from the leaden
weights of pessimism, pathology, and literal limita-
tion, soars aloft into the upper atmosphere of light
and growth. The revelation of divinity in Najture
is in exact accord with that which is incarnated in
the Son. God is the author of all truth, and there-
fore every realm is sacred, The unperverted type


of normal man, as seen in the Christ, confirms the
inherent oneness of God and his children. The
beautiful proportions of the perfect' human model
demonstrate that a full influx of the divine life
tempers all the fancies of the imagination and im-
pulses of the will to a heavenly shaping; and this
is full-grown man — the measure of the stature of
the Christ. The revelation of God in Nature is not
less sacred than that through the Son or the Book.
It is a great volume of pictorial illustration, at the
centre of which man himself is the grandest feature.

"The groves were God's first temples."

The simplicity, freedom, and spontaneity of the
early religions were manifested in a sympathetic
oneness with Nature, and an instinctive feeling of
her divinity. The- people assembled for worship or
sacrifice at natural shrines, or under the broad canopy
of heaven, rather than in temples made with hands.

In process of time, as sacred enclosures, syna-
gogues, and temples became common, men began
to feel that in a special way these structures con-
tained God, and that there was little divinity outside.
Instead of being omnipresent, as men proclaimed
with their lips, in their feelings He was either di-
vided and limited, or else far away. They could
only awaken their sense of Him at special times
and in particular places. The consciousness was
still further limited to set ordinances, sacraments,


and ceremonies. God consecrated all things, and
yet men so lost an appreciation of the overwhelm-
ing presence, that only those particular places and en-
vironments are regarded sacred which men, through
their own special, puny forms, reconsecrate.

But we would have no place less sacred, but lift
all up to the high level and ideal. Men have effec-
tively deconsecrated nature, art, institutions, cus-
toms, and even our own physical organisms, which
have been truly declared to be temples of the Holy

We have drawn a sharp line around a few things
which we have identified with God, pronouncing
everything outside of these secular. We have vir-
tually shut him out of all religions except our owJu
and, through a limited inspiration, out of all books
save one. We have dispensed with him in history,
with the exception of the doings of one race ; and
so, not feeling his particular presence in other
records, have rated them as profane. We have,
perhaps unwittingly, almost declared that God could
not be found outside of one institution, one system,
one round of observances and saving ordinances.
We have not so intended, but our anthropomorphic
and limited ideas of our Deity have logically closed
the portal of the higher consciousness.

The church and the Bible are good, but are not all.
We may truly meet God in the groves or fields, on
the mountain-top, under the azure canopy, or by the


shimmering sea ; but, as we are constituted in his
image, most nearly, face to face, in the sanctuary of
our own soul.

We go to meet him one day in seven, but he is
with us all days, and upon invitation will dwell in
our living consciousness. True thinking, service,
and aspiration are profitable on Monday as well as
on Sunday.

We have put God out of business, out of politics,
out of political economy, out of education, and out
of society, and thereby made them Godless. Encased
in our sensuous pursuits, we fail to feel him, though
he besets us behind and before, and is nearer than
our thoughts. Only his immanence explains all the
marvels of nature within and around us. Not merely
worship, but communion and fellowship with the
" All in All," should be the noblest, sweetest, truest,
purest experience of life.

We can lift everything towards the divine by
transforming our own ideals. "The pure in heart
shall see God." What a wonderful power and privi-
lege ! and yet it potentially belongs to all. How
often we have rated this grand declaration as meta-
phor or allegory, rather than as scientific exact truth.

Life, in all forms and on all planes, is a direct
deific manifestation. There is only one vitality, but
it is all-inclusive.

The materialist sees nature only as a great mecha-
nism. His standpoint will not permit of the broader


range of reality. He views the prismatic glory of
the rainbow merely as light resolved, the beauty of
leaf and flower only as chemical selection, and burst-
ing and exuberant life only as a response to light,
heat, and moisture. Nature to him is therefore a
hopeless, loveless, cold, remorseless machine, a gen-
eral arena of warring forces. But true science, at
this late period, is beginning to divine her friendli-
ness. We are learning to listen while she whispers
to us of her subtle laws and methods. She is waiting
to serve us in every direction. Her very regularity,
which we thought was machine-like, we learn to
depend upon, and find it beneficent. In our undevel-
oped state we thought her our enemy. But vibration,
with her divine rhythm, causes all things to become
ours. She places reins of relationship in our hands,
which reach out objectively in all directions.

We often speak of the forces of Nature. But back
of all forces there is one Force ; back of all laws, one
Law; back of all causes, one Cause, one Spirit, one
Life, one Love.



The scope of material hygiene, though important
in itself, is essentially partial and incomplete. There
is another great causative domain which is both
higher and complementary, and it is unwise to ig-
nore it.

As compared with any former period, modern in-
vestigation is inclined to delve deeply in order to
discover hidden principles, and to reach inward to
primary causation; or, in other words, to get at the
soul of things. The science of sanitation naturally
feels the general stimulus above noted. It is becom-
ing increasingly evident that a mere external observ-
ance of hygienic regulation does not necessarily make
everything clean within. Great progress has been
made from a blind reliance upon drugs as an anti-
dote for human ills, toward a prevention of them
through physical hygiene ; and this important step is
creditable and profitable. But progress never ceases,
and a further extension of hygienic effort is clearly
in order. Attention is being more and more directed
from the objective towards the subjective, from the
seen towards the unseen, and from things towards


The effects of the application of material remedies
for physical ills, as variously utilized, have been
exhaustively studied, and endless experiments made,
without marked or radical success. Theories and
methods in materia medica are still largely experi-
mental and tentative.

It has been practically assumed that the human
constitution is to be dealt with as a fixed quantity
and quality; and investigation has almost entirely
spent itself upon supposed remedies from without,
rather than upon prevention, and in combating syrup -
toms rather than in finding causes. The question
has been, as to just the effect of this or that drug,
and more recently this or that temperature, humidity,
exercise, climate, and physical habit, upon the as-
sumed human fixture. That the conditions just
named are important may be admitted ; but the ques-
tion is, Can that supposed fixture or human ego be so
modified in itself, that it will come into different rela-
tions with its environment ? Every accomplishment
is a growth, and it is found that the individual can
become increasingly independent of external condi-
tions, so as not to always be "under the circum-
stances." Man is not a material mechanism, but a
living entity working from within.

The principle that deserves recognition is, that
the order of causation is from the mental and spir-
itual internal, toward the correspondential and ex-
pressive physical external.


It has been abundantly proved that anger changes
the secretions; that fear deranges the circulation
and deteriorates the blood ; that anxiety wastes the
nervous energy; and that selfishness, pessimism, and
immoral thought drain and impoverish the vitality.
These things and many others make it evident that
nothing in man is fixed, but rather that the subjec-
tive realm is the promising field for new observa-
tion and effort.

Outward occasions of human ills have been mis-
takenly regarded as their primary causes. A more
correct estimate is that physical characteristics are
only the visible index or exponent of the living,
moulding internal forces. And further, it is increas-
ingly evident that cultivated thought, emotion, and
consciousness modify physical expression and con-
dition. Mere occasions may offer us ills, but it is
susceptibility that takes them in and succumbs to

Hygiene, to be truly scientific, must begin to
concern itself with the cleanness of mind as well as
body, and with the ventilation of the thought-atmos-
phere as well as with that of the apartment. Bad
mental pictures must be classed with sewer-gas, and
pessimism rated as malaria. Idealism and spiritual
optimism must take their place among sanitarian
agencies, and man utilize his hitherto slumbering
resources and focalize his thought-forces. The vital-
ity can be invigorated and stimulated from within.


A thorough mental hygiene means more than an
outward formal conformity to respectable ethical
standards. The thought-habits and " resting-places
must be intelligently chosen. Ideals that we are to
gain an intimacy with must be selected with the
same, and even greater care than we exercise in the
choice of personal associates. What one thinks most
about, he either becomes or grows like, and it is the
tendency and function of the physical organism to
mirror it forth. Let us, then, train our minds to
focalize themselves upon those qualities and things
that we wish to manifest, rather than upon what we
would like to avoid.

We should build a thought-realm of ideals of har-
mony, health, soundness, and sanity now, and not
put them off to a hoped-for future. If at present
the body is not expressing such conditions, the inner
perfect reality must be firmly held until, at length,
it is projected into outward expression. We are
souls having bodies, and not bodies having souls.
Man is above his visible instrument, or embodiment,
and should continually affirm his rule of it. The
reverse is slavery. " As a man thinketh in his
heart so is he." By an understanding of the law
of mental concentration he may gradually cl.
his consciousness concerning himself. Thereb
increasingly dominates physical sensation, an(
degrees frees himself from its tyranny. M
hygiene, therefore, includes the intelligent cu]


tion of a new and higher self -consciousness. Such
a compliance with higher law is thoroughly normal,
wholesome, and in accord with man's constitution.
As he lifts himself into the calm occupation of the
higher selfhood, things that have been adverse and
rebellious fall into friendly and harmonious service.
He thereby grasps the reins of objective relation-
ship, and comes into possession of his legal and
rightful heritage.



We are living in a remarkable era. In these clos-
ing years of the nineteenth century the minds of
men are restless as never before. Systems, philoso-
phies, theories, and institutions are being questioned,
shaken, and summoned to the judgment-bar of truth.
A gigantic pair of balances, real though immaterial,
has been set up ; and not only persons, but princi-
ples, customs, methods, and dogmas, are being newly
weighed, re-appraised, and re-valued. Men are dili-
gently searching for the summum honum with an
unwonted vigor.

Not longer content to supinely yield to adversities
and ills, as belonging to the lot of humanity, — inevi-
table, and to be tamely submitted to, — there is a
rapidly growing disposition to question, yes even to
deny, their supremacy, and to sweep away the great
mass of self-imposed limitations of the past, that
have no valid reason for existence.

The search for truth, and the higher appreciation
of its supernal value, were never before so intense
and universal. As a dominant force, principles and
spiritual ideals are taking the place of external
authorities, dogmas, and theories. The divinely es-


tablished order, wlien correctly interpreted, is found
to be, not cold, or merely neutral, but positively
beneficent. Mankind, therefore, is discovering that
conformity to law not only eliminates and dissipates
human ills, but more ; that it brings positive reward
and harmony.

The nature of man, in its essence, is not only one
of the most interesting of topics, but, more than
that, is supremely practical and vital. The prob-
lems which are centred in, and arise from that com-
plex nature, are so near, so all-inclusive and supreme,
that they incomparably overshadow all others. Un-
like the vast majority of conventional systems and
philosophies, they are not merely speculative and
objective, but have' to do with the very heart and soul
of divinity and humanity. Upon a correct or incor-
rect interpretation of these laws of relationship, their
subtle action, interaction and reaction, depend human
progress and happiness, or stagnation and decadence.

What, then, is man ? If we listen for a practical
response to this question from the consensus of world
opinions, thoughts, pursuits, and activities, we learn
that man is an animated fleshly statue, visible, sen-
suous, and material. Nine-tenths of all the labor,
ingenuity, and effort of human kind are put forth in
ministration to this visible man. He is ruler of this
realm, and receives universal homage. His wants
are supplied, his appetites pampered, his inclinations
deferred to, his vanity stimulated, and his whims


yielded to, until he becomes a life-sized exaggeration
and abnormity. It is thought that so long as he has
desirable food, clothing, shelter, material comfort and
luxury, supplemented with some intellectual develop-
ment, he should be complete and content. If he lack
any of these things, he must be kindly supplied with
them, and then he ought to be satisfied. But he is
not. This so-called man is never happy, but always
just about to be. He follows his own fancied ideal
untiringly ; but it is ever a little in advance, just
beyond his grasp. Science is always about to add
something more to his physical accomplishments, and
then all will be well. When he travelled in the
stage-coach, if he could have had just a glimpse of
the future limited express, he would have exclaimed,
" I then shall be happy ! " Electrical invention, with
all its multiform miracles of improvement, promised
much; but in spite of all these and other grand
inventions men have steadily grown more uneasy.
This self-styled man is now looking forward to aerial
navigation, higher technical education, improved legis-
lation, sanitation, and medication, as the things yet
needed for human perfection. These realized, all
will be serene. He bows the knee to all the sensu-
ous forces of science, and believes, in the words of
one of its great exponents, that "all potency is con-
tained in matter."

But in other moods this apparent man expects to
find all completeness which is yet lacking in new


institutions or improved external forms of govern-
ment. Some patent social system, land system, tax
system, or monetary system is to heal prevailing ills,
abolish poverty, prevent crime and ignorance, and
usher in general felicity and harmony.

Every road is traversed, and every by-way ex-
plored, in order to again find and restore the com-
plete satisfaction of a sensuous Eden. But fixed in
the established evolutionary order, there is a " flam-
ing sword" which turns every way, and this forever
bars the road back to a material paradise ; nay, even
more, it renders impossible the attainment of any
supreme felicity of a mere social or intellectual
order. The insurmountable obstacle is subjective, —
entirely within, — and consists in the truth that this
man that we have described is not really man at all.
It is only his shadow, his material expression, his
visible instrument.

He has mistaken his own identity. His woes,
failures, restlessness, and unhappiness all come from
the fact that he believes himself to be material in
his being. He has formed the habit of feeling that
his body is himself. Through this state of conscious-
ness he has come into servitude to sin, disease, and
death, and innumerable other limitations and infeli-
cities. In a word, he is filled with a subtle soul-
hunger which he is unable to diagnose or interpret.
While all good in their order, neither morality, so-
cial reform, temperance, ethical culture, nor intellect-


ualism, one or all, reaches deeply enough to cure the
inner craving. That which has been earnestly pur-
sued as a veritable siimmum bonum turns out to be
an ignis fatuus, which ever lures men more deeply
into a materialistic wilderness.

It is true that when stated as an abstract doctrine
many would hold that they are not body ; but so long
as they practically act and feel that way, the mate-
rial consciousness is ruling, and its corresponding in-
harmonious fruitage appears. The disastrous effects
of such a radical misapprehension are not diminished
by conventional education nor so-called intellectual de-
velopment. The mistaken self-conscious imagery of
a highly cultivated quality is as thoroughly imbued
with restlessness — often more so — than that of
much lower attainment.

Logic and philosophy, though located in a higher
department, are still within the limits of that infe-
rior evolutionary kingdom where conscious or uncon-
scious misplacement is ever present. Even eminent
morality and altruism may exist without spiritual
activity and illumination.

The man that has been outlined, consisting of a
visible upright form, is not a counterfeit, but a cor-
respondential index or counterpart. He bears the
same relation to the real that a figure does to the
number. The external sign is useful in its place,
but it is something only as it represents something.
The physical man only plays, a character in shadow


pantomime. A personality is beheld, bnt the real
ego or individuality is unmanifest until the spirit-
ual consciousness is unfolded.

No man has ever seen his friend, or even himself.
It is the unseen which is the real and substantial.
The world has been mistaken in regarding man as a
material being. This belief is the basic reason for
his ever-present frictions and trials. He expects to
be a soul after a certain event called death, but that
he is the same here and now does not occur to him.
" One world at a time," he says, which on the sur-
face seems quite logical. But in reality one world
is all there is. The thought environment — which is
the nearest and only reality — remains unchanged,
regardless of the mutations which may overtake visi-
ble expression.

Is then the body bad, and are we advocating a
morbid asceticism ? Just the reverse. The material
organism is good, and altogether real as expression,
in its normal relation and position. The mistake is
in identity, which is a radical misplacement. At
first sight this error would not appear serious, but
a deeper view reveals momentous distinctions and
consequences. Let us note some of the effects of this
false consciousness.

In the first place, it creates its own morbid con-
ditions. Whether the man or the body be enthroned
makes a world-wide difference. One must rule, and
the other serve. If this question be settled in accord


with the divinely established order, both are good
and harmonious. Then they just fit and supple-
ment each other. But if the ego be identified in the
consciousness with the sensuous, or even with the
intellectual nature, it takes on innumerable limita-
tions, and yields a slavish subjugation.

We are not now making exclusive reference to
those whose physical propensities are rampant, like
profligates, drunkards, and sensualists, but to the
average individual whose outward life is in accord
with prevailing ethical standards. It is obvious that
the deeper the depravity the more absolute the bond-
age; but the vital question presents itself, Is any
real bondage normal or necessary ? True, complete
and immediate emancipation from the mistakes and
false consciousness of the past — stamped upon us as
it is by habit, heredity, and universal suggestive envi-
ronment — is unattainable. Such is not the method
of evolutionary growth.

But granting that it must be gradual to our appre-
hension, how can it be hastened and made sure ? If
the remedy for the woes and disorders of the world
be contained in a new or reformed consciousness
which is based upon a recognition of the real self-
hood, or intrinsic divinity of constitution, how can
this radical departure be brought about? The an-
swer is evident. Man must begin to think rightly of
himself. He must build up an entire new thought
world through self-formed ideals held in his own


field of vision. This virtually means a new person-
ality and a new environment. The material for this
new creation is contained in an intelligent projected
volume of thought in accord with the higher law.

To overcome the crass materialism in which the
world is at present inthralled, man must continually
affirm, not only to his fellows, but to himself, that
he is a spiritual, and not a material, entity. He must
iterate and reiterate this great truth, until it is su-
premely installed in the kingdom of mind. He is
not a body having a soul, but a soul having a body.
The formative power of thought makes this change
of consciousness revolutionary.

As man truly recognizes himself, assumes the
prerogatives of his divine being, and knows that he
is a spiritual dynamo here and now, he wields new
forces, and grasps supernal powers and privileges.
He comes into at-one-ment with the primal and deific
creative principle, and, from a condition of vassalage,
finds himself a prince of the realm.

By virtue of his subjective transformation he has
established new relations with the objective world;
and now laws and conditions pay him tribute instead
of exacting it. He has become a spiritual alchemist,
and through the alembic of the divinity awakened
within him is able to transmute the seeming "common
and unclean" into the pure, the ideal, and the God-like.
He is able to know and demonstrate the beneficence
of the established order, and to adjust himself to it.


He has divined that there is no such objective prin-
ciple as evil, and that that which has been so denom-
inated is only a subjective distortion, which can be

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Online LibraryHenry WoodStudies in the thought world : or, Practical mind art → online text (page 5 of 15)