Henry Wood.

The symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations online

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Author of " Ideal Suggestion," " Studies in the Thought

World," " God's Image in Man," " Victor

Serenus," "Edward Burton," "The

Political Economy of

Humanism," etc.

/ itrust in my own soul, that can
perceive the outward and the inward.
Nature V good and God 'j. — Browning


202 Devonshire Street
MCMX, ....

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Copyright, 1901, by Henry Wood


/i// Rights Reserved

Entered at Stationers'' Hall, London

Typography By C. J. Peters & son

Boston, U.S.A.

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Although the general purpose of this
book is unitary,' in the broad sense, its
various studies and interpretations are quite
unlike. They touch upon different aspects
of life, and their mutual relation is mainly
below the surface. The particular order in
which they receive attention is therefore of
no consequence. A few of them, subject
to considerable revision, have appeared in
various magazines.

The underlying motif of the author is
constructive and not iconoclastic. It is by"
the positive light of Truth that the shades
of error are to be dissipated. There is a
deep spiritual hunger among men, the ;
nature of which is often not clearly dis-
cerned, and this is the real cause of a uni- ,
versal restlessness. This craving cannot be '
satisfied upon the plane where the search
is most generally made. The higher nature ',
must receive proper sustenance, and failing-
in that, no physical, intellectual or ethical;



redundancy can make good siich a radical
incompleteness. There is a general though
1 mainly a blind quest for the normal divine
counterpart which alone can round out the
'vital necessities of the human constitution.
Such a demand is a positive prophecy of |

At the beginning of the twentieth century
a general evolutionary reconciliation of the
higher order is apparent. Everything there
is has some fitting place and legitimate
office. In the great scheme of the Whole, \
each church, sect, system and institution,,*
'however imperfect, which is striving to uplift
men contains the most good for its own
particular section of the human family, and'
its very existence is a witness of such adapta-
tion. As rapidly as its utihty is outgrown,
in the natural order it will be replaced by
one more fitting, and this may be without
any overt antagonism or criticism. If one
finds his normal hunger more fully met in
some new institution, that which previously
has been regnant will drop away of itself,
and no one need try to strip it away.
I That which is truly liberal will not de-
nounce that which is conservative, nor even o
that which is " narrow." The higher evolu-
tion silently relegates everything to its "own
^ 6


place," arbitrary outside judgments to the I
contrary notwithstanding. Simply bear aloft;
the truth, or your highest ideal of it, and|
let it deal with error as the rising sun deals |^
with darkness. If the shadows are to be!
sternly fought let the light do the work. |
Its spontaneous weapons are more effective!
than those of human forging, be they never
^ so well fashioned.

The authority of the inner Light — which f
is God in the human soul — may gently o
replace dictation from without. Truth is
impersonal and a mirror-like subjective re-
sponse to its presentation is the final test
of genuineness for every man. The writer of
these pages will welcome the application of
this touchstone to his own utterances.

Cambridge, Mass., 1901.



I. From the Pre-Adamic to the Human ii

II. "In the Bush" 41

III. The Human Body as a Temple . . 48

IV. Christ was Asleep 54

V. The Oneness of Life and Being . . 58

VI. Evolutionary Reconciliation ... 86

VII. The King's Touch 97

VIII. Nearer to Nature's Heart .... 109
IX. What is the Meaning of Evil? . . 114
X. Intelligent Physiological Design-
ing 136

XI. What is the Higher Law? .... 155
XII. War from the Evolutionary View-
point 161

XIII. A Christmas-tide Musing 181

XIV. Thinking as a Fine Art 191

XV. Selfishness and Nervousness . . . 220




XVI. The Ever Present Judgment . . . 227
XVII. The Unfulfilled Ideal of Religious

Liberalism 251

XVIII. The Spiritual Utility of Physical

Correspondence 262

XIX. Reactions in the Higher Develop-
ment 271

XX Dogmatism, New and Old .... 275

XXI. What is Disease? 283

XXII. The Cosmic Consciousness .... 288

XXIII. Splinters 293





A Study in the Higher Evolution.

So he drove out the man ; and he planted at the east
of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a
sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the
tree of life. Genesis iii. 24.

HERE is more of philosophy,
evolution and even science in the
Bible than we often recognize, but
they underlie the letter, and are
usually set forth in the terms of symbolism.
As a literature, also, it is of great interest,
and is cosmopolitan in the widest sense.
Beneath the surface of its flowing stream of
historic circumstance and event, its delinea-
tion of personal character and racial insti-
tutions, its varying ethical standards and


The Symphony of Life.

religious rituals, there lie embedded a rich
substratum of eternal and universal laws and
basic truth. Its inherent wealth receives
more profound appreciation now than was
accorded at any time in the past.

While it has been widely studied and rev-
erenced, and technically translated into many
tongues and dialects, it is only under modern
conditions, and in the sunshine of late re-
search that its profounder beauty and signif-
icance are brought to light.

While few still regard the account of the
Creation, the Garden of Eden, and the
expulsion of man therefrom, as literal his-
tory, perhaps a considerable majority have
gone to the other extreme, and count it all
as only a kind of misty tradition or prim-
itive folk-lore, of no especial significance.
But it is vastly more. While we should
avoid reading anything into the text that is
not inherent, it remains that esoteric, meta-
physical and psychological teachings crop
out in profusion. It is true that the authors
of Sacred Writ were not scientists or philos-
ophers in the modern sense, and it is prob-
able that they did not technically apprehend
the lower and higher evolution.

If, as was formerly supposed, Moses
wrote the Pentateuch, except the last eight


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

verses, which give an account of his death,
how could he, even metaphorically, teach
any truth which was positively unknown at
that time ? He knew nothing of the X-ray,
the phonograph or the solar spectrum, but
yet he manifests a perception of certain
grand universal principles which must have
been acquired without books or instruments.
He probably knew Httle of geology or
astronomy, as sciences, but yet his repre-
sentative account of creative development,
through symbolism, receives the virtual
sanction of the most advanced science of

But though the Book of Genesis shadows
forth in allegory and metaphor the general
truths of cosmology in substantial accord
with modern research, this relation is com-
paratively secdndary and correspondential.
The great drama upon which the writer or
writers of this account lift the curtain, is
really a living soul-picture. Upon the sur-
face the narrative appears objective and
historic, but in action and motif it is psy-
chical, spiritual and subjective. Its story is
written not only in the race, but it is virtu- o
ally repeated in every individual unit. It
takes all men to make Man. A very able
philosophical writer recently suggested that


The Symphony of Life.

if Tolstoi and Gladstone could have been
rolled in one, what a wonderful man the
combination would have made ! But even
then there would have remained some angles
and crevices. It would require the universal
combination to make the composite ideal.
Says Browning : — ^

" Progress is the law of life : man is not Man as yet."

The radical difference between the account
of the creation of man in the ist chapter of
Genesis, and the forming of Adam in the ad
chapter, is very significant. In the first
account we read, "And God said. Let us
make man in our own image, after our like-
ness." This seems to represent both arche-
typal and ideal man. It is a picture of the
potential ; yet in a certain abstract sense, it
was complete in the beginning. That was
God's image. In the second account, which
deals with expressive and objective personi-
fication, it is stated that, " the Lord God ^
formed man of the dust of the ground." It
is evident that prevailing systems have
mistakenly taken the material manifestation
for the reality itself. This having been
made a starting-point, the error has been
installed by implication through the whole
historic superstructure. The creation from


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

the dust represents the materialistic idea
that man has had of himself. Though
really "a living soul," to his own conscious-
ness he was, and now is, a material being.
But the imperishable image and likeness of j
God ever remain back of all degrees of out-
ward personality which imperfectly represent
it. Adam is the first and lowest in order
among the humanized expressions. He
' stands for a state of consciousness. He has
left the cHmax of instinct behind and taken
one step, which is an infantile degree in the
domain of reason. Successive steps or char-/
acters will continue until the last Person |
will discover his full identity with the divine \
ideal, and this will be at-one-ment. Sins^i
are the mistakes which are incidental and
educative during the progressive states of]
consciousness. Their penalties are cor-|
rective. Salvation is thinking in accord
with spiritual perception, instead of with
and in conformity to material sense. The
reign of disorder and physical dissolution
will continue among all personalities which
have not fully outgrown the Adamic point
of view. The continual " missing of the
mark," which is due to immaturity, will
steadily diminish with the unfoldment of the
spiritual or Christly ideal.


The Symphony of Life.

Material man cannot translate a soul phi-
losophy unless it be expressed in sensuous
terms, or rather it remains an insoluble
riddle until his inner vision is, at least,
partially opened. The story of Eden is
an intuitive outline of inherent laws and
principles which are beyond time, space or^
locality. It is a sketch of the march of j
animal man across a boundary into the king-|
dom of humanity.

The whole Sacred Word, from Genesis
to Revelation, is a moral and spiritual mir-
ror, and in that fact lies its unfolding and
inspiring power. Its law, poetry and proph-
ecy, its graphic history of persons, tribes
and races, its warm, picturesque allegory,
parable and metaphor, its lights, shadows,
warnings and ideals, its ethics, gospels and
epistles, and its long narration of experi-
ences and events ; all primarily symbolize
and picture forth forces which live and move
in every human soul. Objectively, it is a
great current of collective and complex ac-
tivity, in which there pass before us, kaleido-
scopic views of patriarchal and pastoral life,
slavery and freedom, institutes of priestly
orders and sacrifices, the government of
judgeship, the reign of kingship, the wisdom
of seer and the warning of prophet, captivity


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

and tragedy, conquest and defeat. Messianic
expectancy and fulfillment, but in a pro-
found sense all these are taking place in
every one of us. It is only in the subject-
ive realm that they become warm and vital.
Within, they are like the invigorating and
illuminating rays of the sun, while without,
as mere historic narrative, they but super-
ficially stir us upon the plane of the intellect.

Independent of any theory of special in-
spiration, or that the illumination of Biblical
authorship was unique or exclusive in its
kind, it is yet evident that the sacred writers
attained an eminence in moral and spiritual
perception which made them tower as moun-
tains among the surrounding foothills. It
was their internal power to inspire in high
measure that gave their writings a place in
the sacred canon. Inspiration involves the
spiritual altitude of the individual, regardless
of time or race. He who looks from a
mountain summit sees a vast area spread
out before him, and relation and perspective
are clearly discerned. He is a seer.

Instinct and inspiration, though mani-
fested upon very different planes, have a
striking resemblance in directness and exacti-
tude. The Biblical authors antedate the
great modern development of intellect. In


The Symphony of Life.

the evolutionary order, they were nearer the
period when instinct and insight relatively
were more dominant. They dwelt in a
native and unsophisticated border-land of
God and nature, which now is but dimply
understood. In an essential way their spon-
taneous and lofty curriculum was beyond
the range of that of any modern university.
Our intellectual pride and complex civihza-
tion have dimmed our eyes to the clearness
of their simple perception and penetration
They have a scattered line of succession in ^
the prophetic souls that have appeared all t^
through the ages. It is, and always has
been possible for intuitive souls to see with-
out eyes and hear without ears, and such
penetration and openness to the Unseen, is
as orderly in its proper field as the boasted
scientific methods of the present day. But
the future ideal will include both.

It is of but incidental importance whether
Genesis, or the Pentateuch, were of Mosaic
or other authorship. The particular human
channel is immaterial, but the vision upon
which the account is based was a rare one.
It involved a positive divine intimacy and
receptivity. Whether amid the primitive soli-
tude of Patriarchal life, or within a modern ^
environment of intellectual activity, that


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

|soul which habitually lifts itself into con-
jcious contact with the Oversoul gradually
[evelops a faculty for a clear sight of the
loral order, latent in all, but having little
Lodern appreciation or exercise.
The Bible is the available record of the
inspirations — the word meaning breathed
into — of a scattered galaxy of great open
minds. But their accounts of these divine
interviews are colored in outward expression
by temperament and environment. If Isaiah
had lived in the nineteenth century, doubt-
less his message would have been similar to
that of Emerson, and the poetic hymns of
the Psalmist might have been not unlike
those of Whittier or Browning. The pro-
saic and exoteric trend of Occidental thought
has literalized and often almost cong-eaied
the warm and poetic flow of Biblical phrase-
ology thereby rendering it superficially inhar-
monious. When cast in rigid materialistic
form, its native sparkle and beauty vanish.
But the higher criticism together with the
light of evolution, the new cosmology ,^-and
recent psychology and philosophy, are all
restorative and not destructive forces. New
beauty, unity and vitality are evident in re-
markable degree. We have a grander and
more profound revelation than any past


The Symphony of Life.

generation could have conceived, because
instead of breaking in from without, it is
now recognized as the divine quahty and
voice, in and through man, making itself
audible in his soul. The Book of Genesis,
therefore, is an intuitive statement of the
laws and principles of human unfoldment,
with an epitome of cosmic correspondences.
Before considering more specifically the
evolutionary significance of the Edenic ex-
pulsion and the " Flaming Sword," it may
not be amiss to further generalize regarding
their context and setting. Hebrew scholars
inform us, that that language has very little
tense significance. Its verb-forms denote
state or condition, rather than time or suc-
cession. This knowledge, in itself, should
lead us to rise from the rigid limits of form
and phenomenon to the inner spirit and its
hidden exuberance of divine life and law.
If the consciousness of the reader of Scrip-
ture be centered dominantly upon the mate-
rial and objective domain, he finds, and is
only capable of finding what is literal and
formal, but the developed soul discovers the ^
key and penetrates within. What the Book ''
is, depends entirely upon what one is re-
ceptive to. In the deepest sense, the Bib-
lical personalities and events symbolize


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

inner moral qualities, principles and spiritual

The great ladder of psychical and spirit-
ual evolution that spans the human scale,
has its foot in the Adamic consciousness,
and its summit or ideal in that of the Christ.
Every member of the race is struggling up-_
ward at some intermediate point. Through
every experience of slipping, or falling back,
we are to gain some additional skill in climb-
ing and in avoiding pitfalls. We all begin |
in the Adamic stage of development. ,
Every babe is an innocent little Adam.
The first universal error is to count the seen
and sensuous as the intrinsic and real. That
is the " original sin." To learn that the
material form is only the outward expres-
sion or articulation of the spiritual and
veritable self, is the object of all human
experience. One would suppose that this
vital truth could be easily and quickly made
familiar, but it seems to be the work of a
life-time to lodge it securely in the human
consciousness. Man is made in the image
of God. As God is Spirit, the seen form
cannot be that image, but Adam, dweller in
a sensuous paradise, mistakes the shadow for
the substance. But the spiritual self is
latent within him, and the purpose of ex-


The Symphony of Life.

Istence upon this plane is to awaken it into
actualized manifestation.

As told in Biblical similitude, the unfold-
ment of humanity begins with the Garden-
of Eden. Pre-Adamic man was not really
Man, but represented the grand climax of s
the animal kingdom. His instinct was ex-
act, but the spiritual, and even the rational
faculty was yet latent. He was irrespon-
sible, sensuous and innocent. He was un-
moral, for he was incapable of being either
moral or immoral. Imagine the type ! What
a grand animal ! Physically, how perfect !
What keen senses ! What herculean
strength ! How symmetrical the form .'
Here was the full ripeness of one great
evolutionary subdivision, and the boundary
was now reached and to be crossed. In-
stinct had made no mistakes, and knew of
none. How beautiful the Garden, with its
crystal rivers, its perfect climate, and its
interminable succession of perfected fruits
and flowers! Nothing that any one of the
senses or appetites could desire was wanting.
Summon the imagination, and behold the
most indescribable wealth of color, form and
perfume, in relation with a superlative keen-
ness of capacity for enraptured fascination.
Such was the Edenic paradise.


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

But one eventful day the God-voice in
the expanding Adamic soul became audible.
The line had been reached. Rationality
was born. Infantile stumbling reason now
took the helm and mistakes at once began.
What a contrast with former unerring in-
stinct ! What a fall it seemed to be ! The
threatening shadow of a new principle — a
moral law — hung over man, and unrest and
discontent began. The beautiful Eden was
gone forever, but though " the fall " was a
rise, it did not seem so, and even to-
day the opposite belief has not entirely-
passed. A great residuum of animalism was
carried over, but perfect contentment in it^
had been lost. But what amazing possibil-
ities were dawning for the future ! This is
a picture, not of historic events, but of uni-
versal and evolutionary human experience !

Note a few other symbolic features of the
great transition. Adam and Eve represent
the intellectual and the spiritual, the rational
and the intuitive, the masculine and femi-
nine elements in the human soul. The out-
ward expression of these principles, in dis-
tinctive sex, is but superficial and incidental.
Adam came first in order. The rational
faculty being the lower came earlier into
manifestation. " First the natural and after-


The Symphony of Life.

ward the spiritual.'* How true the order
of the narrative to the course of evolutionary
unfoldment ! The proper equilibrium be-
tween rational and spiritual perception con-
stitutes the normal human unit. The ideal
union between these fundamental factors,
with the spiritual element leading, must
take place before the Christ can be begotten
and brought forth in human consciousness. -
When the soul invites the overshadowing of |1
the divine Spirit, the son or likeness of Godfj |
will make his advent in outward expression. | j

Adam gave names to things after the
sensuous impressions which they produced
upon him. The tree of the knowlege of
good and evil was set in the midst of the
Garden, and the inner Voice, for the first
time audible, told man that the penalty for
partaking of its fruit would be death ; that
is, to his type.

" For in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die." Not physical dis-
solution, which already prevailed, but death
to native ignorant innocence, to content-
ment and sensuous satisfaction. The ces-
sation of animal man, pure and simple, was
at hand.

One kind of a soul was lost, with the dis-
covery, as of gods, of another. It was a


From Pre-Adamic to Human.

veritable exchange of worlds. The knowl-l
edge of good and evil was a new accomplish- '\
ment. To know good and evil is to gain
knowledge by contrast, to discriminate
between things which are transient and
relative, and those which are positive and !
absolute. A little later in the narrative, Cain
and Abel personify the lower and higher
consciousness. In human experience these
are in constant repetition, the manifestation
of Cain coming first in the natural order.
The barbarian of to-day, wherever found, is
in the state personified by Cain. But this
person is more than an animal and cannot
get back into Edenic contentment. He is
a stammering learner in the primary class of
the school of humanity.

\ Sin is an experience which comes from
ignorance. Redemption is learning to
choose the higher instead of the lower. The
thorns and thistles, the struggle and pain,
the strife and upheaval are incidental to the
conflict between the lower and higher con-
sciousness during the education of the spirit-
ual man. Some of the tremendous battle-
scenes which are pictured in Milton's
Paradise Lost, fitly illustrate the contentions
which rage in the soul. What amazing
charges and retreats, and what signal victo-


The Symphony of Life.

ries and defeats ! How many times the
ground is fought over I

To gain physical strength, one must
constantly exercise, which means to over-
come some degree of physical resistance.

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Online LibraryHenry WoodThe symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations → online text (page 1 of 15)