Henry Wood.

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

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ship with each one is a personal secret. It
is the channel which keeps us in vital touch
with the Universal Life. A sense of in-
completeness ever waits upon man's non-
recognition of the mystic union. Perfect
unity must include s^ariety. A conscious in-
dividual relation with the Universal, with
the ear attuned to the utterances of the
" still small voice," tends powerfully to heal
the complex discords which otherwise re-
verberate through the chambers of the
soul.

Emerson was what he was, not only
because he discerned the unity and interre-
lation of all things, but yet more because
he met God face to face "in the bush."

46



"In the Bush."

He early gave full exercise to his spiritual
equipment ; and, therefore, the scope of his
seership was remarkably broad in extent and
rich in quality. In high degree he became
the mouthpiece of God to this generation.



47



The Symphony of Life.



III.






THE HUMAN BODY AS A
TEMPLE.

HE physical organism of man,
without question, is the master-
piece of the whole material creation.
Even when considered simply as
a complex mechanism, apart from mind, it
occupies the superlative rank. From the
anatomical view point, its grace, propor-
tion and perfect adjustment to environment
fill one with wonder. It is also a marvel-
ous demonstration of the principle of co-
operation. The office of each organ or
member is unique, and its activity is not
more for itself than for all the others.
Every one is a standing object lesson of
altruism and ministry. It takes them all to
make a unit. Under normal conditions the
part of each, like the various characters in a
drama, is promptly and intelligently per-
formed. Such is the beautiful and harmo-
nious human structure when untouched by
abnormal conditions.

48



The Human Body as a Temple.

Technically defined, according to the no-
menclature of the animal kingdom, man is
a vertebrate, but within closer limits he
is a mammal. Still more definitely, he is
a primate among mammals, but even this
distinction he shares with the apes. But
though far superior to them in delicacy,
refinement and complexity of functions, the
actual structural differences seem not so very
important. But evolution has put in some
fine work, as instanced by the human hand,
which is only a high development of the
animal paw.

A comparison of various human qualities
with those of the units of the vegetable and
animal kingdoms shows that unnumbered
flowers have rarer combinations of color and
fragrance, and more beautiful contour ;
trees, greater size, solidity and symmetry ;
animals, superior speed, endurance and phys-
ical power; birds, and even insects, keener
senses and instincts, and many other accom-
plishments, which by material measurement
excel man in every direction. Relatively,
as a biological product, he is deficient in
sight, hearing, smell, taste, feeling and
speed, and is subject to a prolonged helpless
infancy.

Why then is the human body — though

49



The Symphony of Life.

composed of like perishable materials — so
intrinsically unlike any other material or-
ganism ? Because it is a temple. A temple
is a consecrated edifice. Its stone and brick
components may be like those of other
buildings, but they are set apart for a dis-
tinct and different purpose. This makes
the body more than an organism. It is a
Sanctuary. The light within shines out
through every portal. Behold the changing
emotional glow upon the countenance, the
light of the eye, the ripple of laughter, the
thoughtful expression, and we begin to feel
the tremendous step between the highest
brute and humanity. If the body be a
temple, it is or should be consecrated. Said
St. Paul in his letter to the Romans :
"Nothing is unclean of itself; save to him
that accounteth anything to be unclean, to
him it is unclean.'' Again, in a similar letter
to the Corinthians, he describes the body as
" a temple of the Holy Spirit." It is evi-
dent that that which consecrates the body is
a peculiar quality of thought. While it is
highly important to keep the physical or-
p-anism cleanly — in the ordinary sense of
the term — it is clear that consecration means
more than a physical process. The term
" holy " comes from hal^ which means whole

50



The Human Body as a Temple.

or well. In reality, the definition of " Holy
Spirit '* is the Spirit of Wholeness. It is,
then, not only the consecrating influence,
but also the essence of perfection and com-
pleteness. In no way does it detract from
the peculiar sanctity and divinity of the term
to restore its original psychological and even
therapeutic aspects, and thus conserve its
full-orbed and inherent significance. The
profound, and even scientific psychology of
Paul, has been largely missed or hidden by
arbitrary and doctrinal interpretations which
have been shaped to fit prevaihng systems
of thought. Uncolored by these accretive
influences, and unbiased by conventional
preconceptions, we find that Paul was won-
derful, not only in Apostolic religious
zeal, but in the degree of his philosophical
insight.

Unlike temples made with hands, the
sanctuary for the use of man is built from
within. The thought and ruling mental
pictures of its owner outwardly articulate
themselves, not only in its fa9ade, but in the
proportion of every architectural detail.
The process of consecration or profanation
goes on unceasingly by means of the activity
of the consciousness. Both are cumulative.
If the inherent sacredness of the human t

SI



The Symphony of Life.

temple were constantly felt by the imaging
1 faculty of man, what would become of ab-
jnormal outpicturings ? There would be no
negative from which they could be printed.
Then would the office of the fleshy sanc-
tuary be held in high honor. Its aisles and
I corridors never would be contaminated by
I the fumes of nicotine, or the unhallowed
I mastery of stimulants, nor could the deform-
ity of shape which is dictated by Parisian
models replace the beauty and symmetry of
the divine ideal. Is it not sacrilege to care-
lessly violate the Higher Law by destroying
that perfection of form which is the acme
of the Creative Handiwork ? How is the
beautiful organism of woman sapped of its
vitality and marred by the crowding of vital
organs into abnormal shapes, until the ad-
vent of a child into the world becomes an
agonizing and unnatural operation instead
of the normal event for which nature has
made ample provision ! Gracefulness, poise
and freedom are transformed into unrespon-
siveness and rigidity, and the resulting ills
which come from hygienic sin are counted
as " mysterious dispensations of Provi-
,dence." Confusion and penalty uniformly
wait upon vain attempts to improve upon
Mother Nature.

52



The Human Body as a Temple.

If the human temple be consecrated with
clean thought, and high respect be given to
its sacred office of soul-expression, it will
measurably respond and reflect^ the honor |
upon its resident executive. That will be
a "blood purifier," by the side of which (
the most available patent panacea will pale j
into insignificance. The reflex influence of
the pure body upon the man whom it
houses will also be harmonizing and help-
ful. The temple will closely correspond to I
the service which goes on within. It will |
faithfully echo back honor or dishonor, clean |
thought or unclean, harmony or discord, j
optimism or pessimism.

Whether or not " The Man with a Hoe " ^
be the shaping of " lords and masters " with-
out, the man with the body has that in-
strument molded by a master from within.
The inner man, who wields either imple-
ment, determines both its quality and that
of the product.



53



The Symphony of Life.




IV.

CHRIST WAS ASLEEP.

And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on
a pillow ; and they awake him, and say unto him, Master,
carest thou not that we perish?

Mark iv. 38.

HAT part of the sea of human
life which lies within the latitude
of the intermediate or psychic zone
of man's threefold constitution is
subject to sweeping storms and tempests.
During the long and adventurous voyage
of the soul's spiritual unfoldment, the craft
is freighted with a miscellaneous cargo of
varying and untold value, while the sailing-
master in charge has not fully mastered the
science of navigation. In the subjective
hold are stored a variety of earthy forces,
untamed emotions, wild passions, experi-
mental and unsymmetrical im.aginations and
impulses. Various intellectual lading is also
found upon deck which seems snugly stowed
for ordinary weather, but often it remains
untested until the passage is well advanced.

54



Christ was Asleep.

The voyage begins well. There are
many days when the weather is calm, the
sky serene, the sunshine bright and the sur-
face of the great deep glassy and unbroken.
During the dreamy days of Spring and
Summer, there are periods when the zephyrs
hardly raise a ripple. The sails are lightly
filled, and the course lazily followed. Every-
thing goes smoothly.

But suddenly, at the close of a long Sum-
mer afternoon, heavy clouds roll up around
the horizon, the lightning flashes, and peals
of thunder break the stillness of the at-
mosphere. Now the wind howls through
the shrouds, the angry waves threaten and
the crew are seized with the utmost alarm.
There is a hurrying to and fro. The craft
pitches and rolls violently, and the cargo
shifts and sets up a corresponding commo-
tion. The ship's timbers creak and groan,
and there is imminent danger of sinking.
All on board are affrighted, and as a last re-
sort, the cry is heard " Awaken the Christ ! "
Ever since the voyage had begun, he had
been comfortably '' sleeping upon a pillow."
So far, only the psychic faculties have
manned the yards, shifted the sails, set the
compass and handled the rudder.

The noble vessel now seems likely to

55



The Symphony of Life.

sink. The spiritual ego is prostrate, un-
conscious and out of sight. Call him on
deck ! He only can rebuke the soul's tem-
pest. It is now his office to command the
winds, and to cry with authority, " Peace,
be still r'

The storm had been invited. But for
its appearance the divine self would have
remained latent and undiscovered. The
Christ, or spiritual ego, was hardly known
to have been on board, or if so he had been
forgotten. As an actual passenger he had
not been visible, and as a commander no
need of him had previously been felt.

The Christ of the Jesus of 1900 years
ago is present even though quiescent, in the
deep background of every soul to-day. He
is no mere historic character or supernatural
visitant from a far-away heaven, but the
normal and present divinity, always and
every day "on board." He is waiting to be
awakened. Bless the psychic storm which
alarms the crew, for nothing less than its
buffeting would serve the purpose. The
tempest is neither evil nor in vain.

Put the divine ego in command and let
him remain on deck. Then though the
winds shriek and the billows surge moun-
tain high, order and discipline will prevail,

56



Christ was Asleep.

and the noble vessel will keep an even keel
and make good progress. In spite of the
stress of psychical storm and physical tem-
pest the soul-craft will triumphantly ride the
waves, and in due time reach the desired
haven.



57



The Symphony "of Life.




V.



THE ONENESS OF LIFE AND
BEING.

The Significance of Late Scientific
Discoveries.

HE threshold of the twentieth
century marks a time when the
thoughts, accompHshmentSj and
expectations of men are expanded
as never before. The era is entirely unique,
for there is nothing in history that is worthy
of a comparison. Scientific discoveries in
new directions, and through fields hitherto
unexplored, are flashing their illumined mes-
sages before us in such an unbroken pro-
cession that we are almost dazed at their
import. We stand peering into the future,
and exclaim with fervid intensity : What
next ? Nature, as if seized with an un-
wonted prodigality, is yielding up her
choicest secrets and lavishing her riches
upon us. The rigid dogmatisms of the
past, whether philosophical, scientific, social,
or religious, are becoming fluidized and

58



The Oneness of Life and Being.

conforming their now plastic shapes to the
harmonious outhnes of cosmical law and
orderly divine interpretation. Forces and
principles which patient analyzers have traced
and follovv^ed in different directions, until
they were lost in unrelated byways, are being
compared, harmonized, and unified. A gen-
eral synthetic philosophy, for which the
world owes much to Spencer, is gaining
sanction and confirmation. Variety in unity
is the present and future inspiration. No
finished creation, no incoherence, nothing
unrelated, but a warm, living, unfolding
social organism, all inclusive in its propor-
tions, is objectified by the collective human
consciousness. No endless conglomeration
of disconnected lives, orders, species, fam-
ilies, and kingdoms, but one life, pul-
sating through all, even though expressed
through manifold individuation, form, and
consciousness. Spirit and matter, God and
man, and all nature thus have their respect-
ive parts, relations, and interactions in the
cosmic economy. The growing and now
almost acknowledged monistic philosophy
of the present time was not possible at an
earlier date. Evolutionary knowledge and
interpretation has but recently arrived at
such a goal.

59



The Symphony of Life.

The writer of this essay does not claim to
have made any original scientific investiga-
tion in physics, or to possess the technical
equipment of a specialist in that department.
His effort is only to trace and interpret the
logical significance of recent tendencies and
discoveries which have been announced by
some of the most eminent exponents of sci-
ence and philosophy, or in other words to
give utterance to what is now " in the air "
and outUne a " feeling " which is rapidly
coming into the general consciousness.

The great mountain of systematic Truth
is being ascended by well-trained explorers
on every side. Formerly, each scientific
department confined itself to its own little
hillock, and looked askance across a chasm
at all the others. There was an abundance
of specialization but little or no synthesis.
Geology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and
all the natural sciences each fenced off its
own domain, and trespassing was not ex-
pected. But climbers on all sides of the
great summit of human attainment are now,
as they toil upward, coming consciously face
to face. The logician is beginning to re-
spect the intuitionalist, the " hard-headed "
scientist complacently finds himself supple-
mented by the idealist, the educator seeks

60



The Oneness of Life and Being.

the aid of the psychologist, and the physicist
is rather happily surprised to find in his own
latest researches that his very solid and real
" matter," without any loss, is dissolving
into ether — and perhaps into spirit. As
all roads once led to Rome, so now all the
paths of scientific exploration are conver-
ging into monism. They are like a mass of
many colored intricate strands that may be
systematically gathered and twisted into a
strong cable, secure and unbreakable. As
each investigator brings in his special contri-
bution to the great shining mass of related
knowledge, thus rounding its fair propor-
tions, the faces of all become radiant with
unwonted sympathy and wonderment. Each
has laid his tribute upon the altar of a social
universe, a divine living organism.

The crass materialism which formerly
characterized scientific research is rapidly
fading, and, although human interpretations
of Divinity still vary widely, a blank atheism
is now exceedingly rare. The solidity of
matter has departed, and whether a given
substance presents itself to the senses in a
solid, fluid, or gaseous state is found to be a
mere question of temperature and compres-
sion. Thus from the sensuous and concrete
as well as from the more abstract view-point,

6i



The Symphony of Life.

distinctions are but provisional and inciden-
tal, and the former supposed chasm between
the seen and the unseen is not only bridged
but filled. The visible and invisible, the
audible and inaudible, material and immate-
rial, are but terms bestowed upon our narrow
sensuous limitations. To modern science
they have no absolute significance, but
merely indicate variable and interchangeable
rates of etheric vibration.

The great land-slide from dualism toward
monism has been very rapid, and it has
come as a logical sequence of the evolu-
tionary philosophy. This could not have
resulted had evolution continued as ma-
terialistic in its basic principles, as it was
forty years ago. So long as mind and spirit
were regarded as mere properties of organ-
ized matter, or even as its antithesis, the
dualistic philosophy was logically reasonable.
Then science insisted upon considering all
phenomena only in terms of matter. The
higher and later evolution now locates prog-
ress in mind and life, and each grade
indexes or outwardly articulates itself by
corresponding physical forms. The ichthy-
osauria have become extinct, not because such
marine reptiles have come to nothing, but
for the reason that that pecuHar quahty of

62



The Oneness of Life and Being.

mind or life has advanced, and therefore
expresses itself in a higher embodiment. A
particular form is dropped when no longer
suitable for fitting expression. The " con-
servation of energy " forbids that any force
shall perish. The body of a tiger is not an
arbitrary structure, having an attenuated
property called life, but rather an expressive
instrument shaped from within, in every
detail, to obey the mandates of a feline cun-
ning, ferocity and cruelty. Under the
. monistic philosophy, it follows that the finer
vibrations in all organisms control and ex-
ternally manifest themselves by those of
greater crudity. It will be readily noted
that such an order of operation involves
no dualism. A short time ago, psychol-
ogy, now rapidly developing into a science,
was but little known, and was looked upon
as beyond the scope of proper scientific re-
search. It had no recognized orderly rela-
tions, and no governing laws in its methods
and phenomena.

It is true that there yet remain many
scientists who avowedly are monists, and
yet whose monism is cast in material limita-
tions and terminology. Perhaps this is
largely the result of a conventional habit of
describing things, for under it they must in-

63



The Symphony of Life.

elude the ether itself. Ideas-are more subtly
and rapidly changed than are the fitting
terms for their exact expression. Habits
are persistent. Whatever matter m.ay be
in the abstract, materialism signifies more
a quality of human consciousness than an
exact definition of objective substance.

The former supposition that matter is
"dead stuff " has passed as thoroughly as the
assumption before noted that spirit and mat-
ter are antipodal in their nature and essence.
The more subtle and startling discoveries
in modern science seem to be making a
steady approach toward a spiritual monadol-
ogy much like that so ably advocated by
Leibnitz. Everything from the atom up
to the largest organism possesses a soul, or
more exactly is a soul. "If our intellectual
action," says Professor DuBois of the Shef-
field Scientific School of Yale College, " finds
physical expression in nature, and not only
reason but imagination is found to be an aid
in physical investigation — may we not re-
trace our steps, and again define all science
as the verification of the ideal in nature''

All the processes in nature are vital rather
than mechanical. It was formerly beheved
that the rising of the sap in a tree was due
to a mere capillary attraction or chemical

64



The Oneness of Life and Being.

activity. Biologists now generally admit
that it is due to a living vital force. The
natural inference seems to be that these
various orders of organic life possess some
degree of intelligence. When confined by
the cleft of a rock, this force in a tree, under
certain conditions, will exert an immense
pressure and split it asunder. Vines will
lift great weights, and roots will run for a
long distance through dry sand, or along the
surface of bare rock, to find congenial mois-
ture and nutriment. The crystal is our
relative, and is expressing vital and orderly
discrimination. After its own method and
fashion it is chanting a hymn of praise to its
eternal Designer and Artificer. Everything
■in its own rhythm is joining in a universal
chorus. Emerson thus discourses of ex-
pression : —

"All form is an effect of character; all condition, of
the quality of life. Here we find ourselves, suddenly,
not in a critical speculation, but in a holy place, and
should go very warily and reverently. We stand before
the secret of^the world, there where Being passes into
Appearance, and Unity into Variety. The universe is
an externalization of the soul. Since everything in
nature answers to a moral power, if any phenomenon
remains brute and dark, it is because the corresponding
faculty in the observer is not yet active."

The monistic philosophy of to-day teaches
that spirit and matter are but different as-

6s



The Symphony of Life.

pects or vibrations of one primal energy, and
this truth is rapidly coming into the con-
sciousness of the deepest thinkers of the
world. On page ;^^, in " Matter, Ether,
and Motion," Professor Dolbear in speak-
ing of the ether says : " It does not seem
proper to call it matter." He further sug-
gests as a specific name the term " sub-
stance." If it stands under everything, this
seems very suitable.

The logical result of the higher evolution-
ary philosophy appears to be in full accord
with these conclusions. While there is some
variation in details, the same result in the
main is fortified by such names as Spinoza,
Leibnitz, Hegel, Hartmann, and by the
most eminent names of this generation, in-
cluding Spencer, Haeckel, Cope, and many
others that might be enumerated. Spencer's
philosophy does not teach the priority of
matter as related to mind, but at the most,
that it is a parallel or concomitant develop-
ment. Mind, force and matter, to him, are
all manifestations or states of one inscru-
table and universal principle — the " Un-
knowable." The essential unity, harmony,
and interrelation of all phenomena, physical,
mental, and spiritual, inclusively having
their roots in the Deity, is evidently the

66



The Oneness of Life and Being.

grand truth which is not only to reconcile,
but to solidify, science and religion.

The structure of the atom — the theo-
retical unit of matter — remains an unsolved
problem. No chemist or physicist has yet
been able to shed any light upon it. Re-
garding the relativity of atoms in space, in
the descending scale, Professor W. S. Jevons
in the " Principles of Science " says (page
146) : " Scientific method leads us to the
inevitable conception of an infinite series of
successive orders of infinitely small quanti-
ties. If so, there is nothing improbable in
the existence of a myriad universes within
the compass of a needle's point, each with
its stellar systems and its suns and planets
in number and variety unlimited. Science
does nothing to reduce the number of
strange things that we may believe." One
is reminded of the former theological specu-
tions of the schoolmen regarding the num-
ber of angels that could dance upon the
point of a needle. If we might count
" angels " as atoms, science may seem more
extravagant than theology. Said Professor
DuBois, in a lecture before the Bridgeport
Scientific Society : —

" We admit as a physical fact, that at least within
certain undefined limits in our organism, matter obeys

67



The Symphony of Life.

will, and brain particles move at the impulse of voli-
tion. Now, molecules, the physicist tells us, are sepa-
rated by spaces indefinitely great as compared to the
size of the molecules themselves, and these spaces are
filled with ether, which condenses around the molecules
like the atmosphere about the earth. Within the limits
of the cranium, then, we may conceive of a whole sular
system in miniature. The whole great Universe with
its suns and systems is represented in those tiny, whirl-
ing, moving brain particles. Now, upon one of these
little brain particles, separated by an immense relative


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Online LibraryHenry WoodThe symphony of life : a series of constructive sketches and interpretations → online text (page 3 of 15)